In 1890, a twenty-year-old American named Ida Sophia Scudder traveled to India to be with her ailing mother, and experienced a life-changing event. On a night that is now part of CMC’s story, three different men, a Muslim and two Hindus, arrived at her family’s home seeking emergency help for their wives who were having labor complications.
Dr. Ida’s vision: compassionate, quality care for all women regardless of religion or social standing.
The three young husbands refused the assistance of Ida’s father, who was a Christian missionary doctor, because of prevailing caste and gender customs. Without any medical training, Ida was powerless to help. The next day she discovered that all three women had died. After reflection and prayer, Ida felt that God was calling her to serve the women of India. She returned to the U.S. to become a doctor, graduating in the first class that accepted women at Cornell Medical College (1899).
Returning to India in 1900, Dr. Ida S. Scudder had just $10,000 to begin her work. This was a gift from a man who wanted to memorialize his deceased wife. Dr. Ida immediately opened a one-bed clinic giving medical assistance to local women who had no other place to turn. But by 1902, the 40-bedded Mary Taber Schell Memorial Hospital was opened, beginning the realization of Ida’s vision –that women should have the same access to quality and compassionate healthcare that men did, regardless of religion or the ability to pay for it. She dedicated her life to this idea and her legacy continues to inspire people to join her cause, even to this very day.
That tiny clinic and then the Schell Hospital have grown into today’s superb medical and educational institution, the Christian Medical College, Vellore (CMC). Over two million patients are served annually and one thousand doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are trained each year. Individuals come from all over India, South Asia and the rest of the world in search of the best care, delivered with honesty, fairness, compassion and integrity. Today, CMC’s excellence continues with advances in research and a continually-evolving curriculum aimed at transforming India’s promising medical students into creative and compassionate healthcare providers.
A Legacy of Leadership
CMC’s outreach and commitment to the poor is complemented by its record of clinical excellence including many firsts in India (and in some cases, the world).
- First college of nursing in India in 1946
- First reconstructive surgery on leprosy patients in the world in 1948
- First neurological sciences department in South Asia also in 1948
- First successful open heart surgery in India in 1961
- First middle-ear microsurgery in India in 1961
- First rehabilitation institute in India in 1966
- First kidney transplant in India in 1971
- First bone marrow transplant in 1986
- First carotid bifurcation stenting procedure in India in 1996
- First trans-septal carotid stenting procedure in the world also in 1996
- First trans-jugular mitral valvuloplasty procedure in the world again in 1996
- First successful ABO incompatible renal transplant in India in 2009
- Ranked the #1 private medical hospital in India in 2013 (India Today)
- Consistently ranked the #1 hospital in India by consumers (shareranks.com)
For more information, see CMC’s Facts and Figures for 2015.
History of the Foundation
Today’s Vellore CMC Foundation is the product of almost 100 years of guidance and support for CMC. When Dr. Ida Scudder completed her medical education and was headed back to Vellore to open a hospital and medical school (1899), the missionary ministry of the Reformed Church in America (RFA), along with many other denominations, were already sending American missionaries to India, (including many Scudders). Ida was adopted by the RFA, the Methodist Church and several other denominations and women’s committees. Within a few years more churches had joined, followed by a similar group of British churches, to form the General Board of Dr. Ida’s new Mission Medical College for Women in Vellore. The Board provided financial oversight, structural support and governance to the newly-established college. Ida Scudder reported to the ‘American Section’ as it was called, presenting plans for growth, mapping out fund raising, and requesting missionary doctors and nurses to staff the College.
In 1932, the newly-named American Committee of the Governing Board of the Missionary Medical College for Women, Vellore was incorporated in the State of New York to govern CMC, raise funds, manage investments and represent the College in the U.S. and Canada. By 1945, coinciding with the decision to admit men to CMC, the organization became the Vellore Christian Medical College Board (North American Section), with the mission to provide financial and church-related support to the new CMC for women and men. Governance was passed to the Indian Council of Churches in Vellore, and the American Section of the Board continued to coordinate medical missions and fund raising.
In 1962, two years after Ida Scudder’s death, a small group of Scudder friends and family left the Board and formed The Ida S. Scudder Vellore Association, although they remained affiliated and united on behalf of CMC. Ten years later the two groups reunited as the Vellore Christian Medical College Board (North American Section), which endured until 2009, when it was renamed the Vellore Christian Medical College Foundation, Inc.