Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, was founded by an American missionary daughter, Ida Sophia Scudder. She was moved with compassion at the suffering of women in childbirth when she visited her parents who were serving in Arcot mission in South India in the late 19th Century. She could not ignore the calling to provide medical assistance to the women of India. She decided to respond and translated vision into action, giving a lifetime of service to further the Kingdom of God.
With great resolve she studied medicine in Philadelphia and Cornell and then returned to India to open a one room clinic in January 1900 in Vellore. It was a time when epidemics and superstitions were rampant and the average life expectancy was 24 years. She had to battle with plague, famine, ignorance and taboos. In 1902, a 40 bedded hospital was funded by an American philanthropist, in memory of his wife, Mary Taber Schell. Ida established a school of nursing in 1909 and a Medical School in 1918. In 1924, the hospital expanded to its present site in the centre of Vellore town. Dr Scudder believed in reaching out to the people in the surrounding villages and she did this by running roadside clinics where hundreds of patients would gather under a tree and wait for her van.
CMC was upgraded to a medical college affiliated to the Madras University in 1942 and opened its doors to male students in 1947. Dr Ida planned, prayed and promoted her dream and was able to attract funds and a wealth of human resource from all over the world. After her death in 1960, the administration of the institution was handed over to Indian protestant churches. CMC became linked to mission hospitals run by these churches, committed to train health professionals to serve in needy areas. In the next decades, CMC made great strides in developing tertiary care, pioneering cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, paediatric surgery and renal transplantation in India.