Last week, Dr. Naresh Trehan, the top cardiologist at one of Indiaâ€™s largest corporate hospital groups, playing the role of a modern-day Moses, quit the research center he had led for the last 20 years, triggering an exodus of sorts, with about 50 doctors set to follow him to a rival hospital.
Dr. Trehan, 60, who founded and has been executive director at Escorts Heart Institute Research Centre (EHIRC) since 1988, resigned from his post last Wednesday and began to serve today at Apollo Hospitals Group, a major healthcare group in Asia, with over 7,000 beds in 41 hospitals.
Early this month, the administration at EHIRC showed Dr. Trehan the door by removing him unceremoniously from his long-held post, accusing him of focusing more on his self-promoted Rs. 10 billion (US$249 million) Medicity, an upcoming multi-disciplinary healthcare hub in Gurgaon, a satellite town of Delhi.
The healthcare hub, coming up along the lines of Dubai Health City, is expected to be the largest such centre in South Asia.
The Fortis Group, which owns a 90 percent in EHIRC had also been seeking a stake in Medicity. In mid-May, the group â€œclosedâ€ its relationship with Trehan, after two years of divisiveness, saying that the doctorâ€™s work with Medicity was a conflict of interest.
But as charges and counter-charges kept flowing, both camps decided to bury the hatchet, May 26, and as part of the deal, which aimed at limiting public damage to both the corporate brand as well ensuring that Trehan left with his credibility intact. The noted doctor was reinstated to his old position of executive director, Escorts Heart Hospital.
However, within days of the amicable settlement, Dr. Trehan announced that he would be joining rival Apollo Hospital.
In a press conference last Wednesday, the doctor said that he and his team, which includes 100 staffers in addition to doctors, would be joining Apollo Hospital Delhi the following Monday.
Ranbaxy, owner of the Fortis Group, is understood to have picked up the 10 percent stake in EHIRC owned by Dr. Trehan. Thereâ€™s a family connection, as Pharma major Ranbaxy is controlled by Malvinder Singh, brother of Shivinder Mohan Singh who owns the majority stake in EHIRC.
Financial details of Trehanâ€™s departure were not made public. However, according to sources close to the development cited by the Hindustan Times, Dr. Trehan has sold his stake for Rs. 65 crore ($16.2 million).
Dr. Trehan's move is likely to come as a big boost to the Chennai-based Apollo Hospital chain's plans to play a dominant role in cardiac care in North India.
Escortsâ€™ has nine cardiac operation facilities versus Apolloâ€™s three in Delhi. The arrival of Trehan and his fellow doctors could boost the number of patients served at Apollo.
EHIRC management has downplayed the impact of Trehanâ€™s departure. As late as Friday, Shivinder Mohan Singh, managing director at Fortis said 10 to 12 doctors, none of them senior specialists, had decided to leave. Escorts has a pool of 250 doctors and 40 senior physicians, with a total staff of 2,600.
With Medicity set to open a year and a half from now, it could open the way for Trehan to have a short stay at Apollo. Other speculation in the media is the possibility that senior doctors from Apollo could make a move toward Fortis healthcare.
On Saturday, Trehan said his group would settle in at Apollo, according to the Hindustan Times.
â€œWe plan to integrate with the existing team and set up the best heart command center at Apollo Hospital. When we have the best center, there is no dearth of patients,â€ he said.