Ida B. Scudder called to CMC
Dr Ida Belle Scudder (1900-1995) was the niece of our founder, Dr Ida Sophia Scudder. Ida B, as she was affectionately called, showed, through her actions, her commitment “to serve and not be served”. She was willing to give up her own career plans. Instead, she did what was most needed to serve the people of India.
Ida B graduated as a doctor in 1928 in the USA. She wanted to work in paediatrics and began her training. However, CMC was in desperate need for trained doctors and her aunt asked her to come to CMC Vellore. Ida B responded to this urgent call. Leaving her paediatric job in the USA she came to CMC in 1931.
When she first arrived in India she taught Anatomy and ran the Eye and ENT services. Then, in 1933, she took charge of the Department of Medicine, and a year later, Obstetrics. In each clinical field, she was distressed by the large numbers of cancer patients, particularly those with oral and cervical carcinomas. The only treatment available was surgery and that was only suitable for a few cases.
A willing servant
She loved paediatrics and obstetrics. But, Aunt Ida had no one to run the aged X-Ray machine and asked her to train as a radiologist.
She went to the USA and the UK to train in Radiology, Medical Physics and Radiotherapy. Then she returned to Vellore in 1939 and began working both with X-rays and a second-hand radiation therapy machine. She started the joint department of Radiology and Radiotherapy. This divided later to become two departments, Radiodiagnosis and Radiotherapy. Later the Department of Nuclear Medicine sprang from the same root.
Passing on the Torch
Ida B developed not only the clinical services but also the education and research sides of these departments. She started post-graduate training courses in Diagnostic Radiology (interpreting the images) and in Clinical Oncology (cancer treatments). She also invested in training the technicians who take the Xrays (radiographers).
Her dedication and hard work ensured that CMC became a leading diagnostic centre, and a place of healing for thousands with cancer.
No ivory tower
Despite the demands for her technical expertise, she had a heart for the poor. She always made time to take part in the “Roadsides”. These were the mobile clinics held out in the countryside and from which our various community health programmes grew.
Can you help elderly villagers who cannot afford the full cost of care at CMC? The Development Office Emergency Fund uses your donations to make cancer treatment affordable to the poorest of the poor.
Ida B had great gifts of energy, curiosity, intelligence, and wisdom. Her generosity, kindness and dedication touched many. Dr AD Singh, her successor, described her as the most compassionate doctor he had ever met.
Ida B retired from CMC in 1967. But went on to found radiology departments at Miraj in Mumbai and Ambillikai in Tamil Nadu. Ida B was a true pioneer of radiotherapy, bringing its benefits to tens of thousands of cancer sufferers in southern India.
Honoured in CMC
The Ida B. Scudder building houses Radiation Oncology. Here they use radiation to treat people with cancer. The Ida B. Scudder Isotope Laboratory hosts Nuclear Medicine in CMC Vellore. Nuclear Medicine uses radioactive isotopes to diagnose diseases and to treat patients. These facilities are concrete memorials to her service and the diversity of her work.
But her most significant legacies are the services she founded, the patients cared for, the doctors, radiologists, radiation oncologists, technologists and physicists, that she trained. Ida B cheerfully and wholeheartedly chose to give her life and dreams to a cause larger than herself.
This is an abbreviated version of a pdf document here on the CMC website. The original document was adapted from writings by written Carl F. von Essen, M.D., and Dr. Reena George, sourced from the biography ‘Legacy and Challenge’ by Jenifer Georgia, and the CMC Archives.
Assisted Living Centre
As another tribute to her immense contribution, we dedicated the
Ida B. Scudder Assisted Living Centre
in Vellore on 16th September 2020. This is designed as a “step down” or halfway house for elderly patients who have been discharged from hospital following an illness or operation. Frequently patients no longer need to be in hospital but aren’t yet ready to go home. This is especially the case if they are living alone. Or they live with an elderly spouse who may not be able to look after them while they are recovering.
The Assisted Living Centre is a pleasant homely facility, where residents can adjust again to independent living. It will be managed by nurses and the residents can see a doctor when required. The centre will begin to function after the COVID crisis.
This facility was made possible thanks to generous donations by, among others, CMC alumni, the Scudder Association and Ida B’s nephew, Dr Rob Fish.
Would you like to help an elderly patient treated at CMC?
Read more about……
Dr Ida B. Scudder
If you would like to read more about Ida B, her biography is available from Amazon or from the Scudder Foundation. The title is
“Legacy and Challenge: The Story of Dr. Ida B. Scudder”
by Jennifer Georgia ISBN-10 : 0963899902CMC.
Departments started by Ida B
Ida B started one department that is now 3 departments. The following webpages will tell you what each does now:
Technician Training related to Ida B
CMC continues to train people to be
- Radiographers: BSc in Radiology and Imaging Technology.
- Technicians to work with radiation to treat cancers: BSc Radiotherapy Technology
- Technicians who use radioactive materials to diagnose and treat diseases: BSc in Nuclear Medicine Technology.
You can read more about these courses in this document about Allied health courses.
Post-graduate Medical Training related to Ida B
Post-graduate doctors can train at CMC and specialise in these areas:
- MD and DM Radiodiagnosis – interpreting xrays, CT Scans etc.
- MD and DM Radiotherapy – treating people who have cancer with ionising radiation.
- MD Nuclear Medicine – interpreting the results of tests using small amounts of radioactive materials.
- Post-graduate Fellowship training in various areas of radiology.
You can find out more about these in the CMC prospectus