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Celebrating Over 100 Years of the Christian Hospital Mungeli

April 24, 2013

Heritage courses through the veins of the Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM). In every corridor, ward and pew, the legacy of those who had the dedication and vision to reach out to this community over 100 years ago, can be felt.

Our History

In 1885 six missionaries, while travelling by bullock Cart from Jabalpore to Bilaspur, rested in Mungeli on the banks of the Agar River. This is where and when it all began. 

In the years to come, the Agar river was used to baptize most of the early converts, the first being a man called Hira Lal followed by his wife Nan Bai, two people who would go on to become vital pillars in Mungeli's healthcare story.  Two years after they arrived, Mr. and Mrs G.W. Jackson opened the Mission Station at Mungeli. Jackson built the mission station’s “Big Bungalow” on six acres which the mission purchased North of the Agar River. In 1890, Mrs. Jackson operated a small dispensary at the mission bungalow.

However, by 1891 Mr.Jackson became too ill to remain in Mungeli. The Mission chose Reverend Evelyn Martson Gordon to replace him. Born in India, Reverend Gordon was a 20 year-old bachelor when he arrived in Mungeli. Little medical work could be done at the mission and it was only five years later in 1896, when Reverend Gordon married Dr. Anna Dunn Gordon, that medical work truly began.

It appears that many Mission Hospitals began with women at the helm - CMC Vellore and Dr. Ida Scudder, CMC Ludhiana and Dr. Edith Brown, the Clara Swain Hospital in Bareilly, Christian Hospital, Bissamcuttack and Dr. Lis Madsen, and the Ellen Thoburn Coven Memorial Hospital in Kolar to name a few. To this distinguished list we add Dr. Anna Gordon.

Born in 1869 in India, Dr. Gordon attended school in Bombay and Brussels, earning the “gold medal” in her class. After moving to Mungeli in 1896, Dr. Gordon first held clinics in a tent and in an old school building. The following year, the Gordon's built the Christian Hospital Mungeli. Dr. Gordon also began training medical assistants, including Hira Lal. The medical work grew quickly. In 1903, the hospital treated 342 in-patients and 9,698 out-patients. By 1907, Dr. Gordon had also trained the hospital’s first nurse, Nanbai.

After 38 years in service, the Gordons left Mungeli in 1907. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) sent other missionary doctors to Mungeli, including Dr. George Miller. During long periods when there was no missionary doctor at CHM, medical work was carried on under the direction of Hira Lal, who served the community in Mungeli for more than 50 years.  In 1940 the Kaisar-I-Hind silver medal was awarded to Hira Lal for his services in the region.

In 1925, Dr. Victor Rambo became Medical Director of the Christian Hospital Mungeli. Dr. Rambo was born in India in 1894, incidentally ten years after the first missionaries came to Mungeli. He was the son of missionaries of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society. During Dr. Rambo’s tenure, both the hospital’s facilities and its ability to deliver medical services grew significantly. By 1932, a substantial gift from a donor in the United States allowed the construction of a large and a small operating room, a delivery room, and an examining room for eye patients. At the same time, the original hospital building was remodeled to contain an outpatient department, lab, and records room. Also, during the 1930s, the hospital constructed several new wards. An American missionary nurse, Eva Alice Springer, used her own funds to build several of these wards and also acted as the general contractor overseeing their construction.

Under Dr. Rambo’s leadership, CHM became known for its work in saving and restoring sight. Many of the blind could not travel to the hospital so Dr. Rambo pioneered the use of “eye camps,” where surgical teams from the hospital travelled to villages to perform cataract removal and other eye surgeries. The hospital conducted its first “eye camp” in 1943 at Kawardha, some 45 miles from Mungeli. Over the next 25 years, CHM held approximately 150 eye camps in more than 25 villages up to 100 miles from Mungeli, restoring sight to many thousands of the curable blind.  The concept of eye camps became famous, as it was adopted in other developing countries.

In 1947, Dr. Rambo began dividing his time between Mungeli and Vellore, where he taught part-time at the Christian Medical College’s Ophthalmology Department. Dr. Dayal Suknandan then became CHM’s Medical Superintendent, and with on-going support from the United Christian Missionary Society, the hospital’s growth continued through the 1950s. The 40-bed Bentley Eye Ward opened in 1953. The hospital completed substantial additions to the Eye Clinic and Lab in 1961. By that time, CHM had 120 beds and averaged 368 in-patients per month.

In 1971, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in India joined with other denominations to form the Church of North India, bringing CHM under the administration of the Church of North India. By that time, most foreign missionaries were leaving the country, significantly reducing external funds and personnel supporting mission hospitals. Over the next 30 years, CHM struggled. During this period, the limited services provided by the hospital were made possible by continuing financial contributions from the Rambo Committee, Inc., a charitable organization originally founded in Pennsylvania during the 1920s to assist Dr. Rambo’s work.

In 2003, after a change in leadership, CHM began to grow again. In 2011, Christian Hospital Mungeli had 120 beds, saw approximately 30,000 out-patients, delivered 600 babies, and performed some 2,500 surgeries per year. CHM is now owned and operated by Eastern Regional Board of Health Services which is under the Church of North India.

Today our Mission Statement is, “The whole community of Christian Hospital Mungeli is committed to providing holistic healthcare through excellent services, quality care and respectful treatment in which the spirituality of each person is honored. This is to say clearly that NO patient will be refused, all patients will be treated regardless of what religion they belong to and the hospital will always strive to provide the best of services at the least minimal cost, always being aware to serve the marginalized and needy.”

Medical Services          

CHM has a medical staff that includes four doctors and 28 nurses. The hospital now has 120 beds on four general wards and two Intensive Care Units equipped with state of the art monitors, ventilators, syringe pumps, and other lifesaving needs. All beds are subsidized to reduce the financial burden on the patients and their families.

Diagnostic services are provided in-house with a modern lab having services in Hematology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and also has a licensed blood bank.  The hospital is also supported by a Radiology department. CHM has a CT scanner and digital x-ray machine along with a filmless digital system (PACS). These are integrated with the hospital’s computer network, allowing the images to be viewed on computers anywhere in the hospital or through the wireless network serving the hospital’s campus.  Diagnostics are also supported with two ultrasound machines with color Doppler, upper GI Endoscope, and a tracheobronchoscope. All OPD records are now kept on paperless ebooks.

There are three operating rooms, where surgeries including laparoscopic, orthopedic, and urological with C-ARM facility are performed. In-patient departments are also now transitioning to electronic records. The nursery and delivery room are equipped with intra-uterine monitoring systems. Our departments include, Dental, Eye, Physiotherapy, a Burn Unit and a Cancer Department (anticipated opening late 2013).       

Social Services

Many of the patients served by Christian Hospital Mungeli come from the neighboring districts and states. They are accompanied by large numbers of relatives that need to be accommodated on campus. In 2005, CHM completed major construction of facilities allowing a place for relatives of in-patients to stay, to cook for their hospitalized relatives, and to obtain meals with subsidized help provided by the government. We do not turn away the family support that is much needed for a patient's recovery.

Nursing School

In 2010, Christian Hospital Mungeli opened a nursing school in the hope of training nurses who will serve this mostly-rural and impoverished area. The nursing school only accepts candidates from Chhattisgarh and provides training at a lower cost than any private nursing school in the state.  In 2011, the nursing school was accredited by the Nursing Council of India, and takes 30 students and a full-time teaching staff of six. The first batch will graduate in 2014. The teaching atmosphere and the young blood of the students adds a positive and uplifting energy to the whole hospital. 

Community Work

As of 2011, community health work has begun in two villages and the survey of these villages has started.  The work in the villages is growing rapidly.

Rambo Memorial English School 

Christian Hospital Mungeli also administers the Rambo Memorial English Medium School, which provides subsidized English Medium Education to the children of Mungeli and surrounding villages.
In1994, the Church of North India opened the Rambo School in an old mission bungalow near the Hospital, named to honor the memory of Dr. Victor C. Rambo, who served the Christian Hospital Mungeli so diligently for 25 years.
In 2004, lack of funds brought the school to the verge of closure, and the Church asked that the Hospital to take over its administration. At that time, the Rambo School had 80 students and a teaching staff that had not been paid for some time. In 2005, after much prayer and reflection, the CHM agreed and established this vision for the Rambo School:

  • To give English medium education to the children of the staff of the Hospital and thus aid in the Hospital’s mission by helping recruit and committed staff.
  • To build a secure future the next generation, including children from the surrounding villages, through providing good, low-cost, high quality English medium education.

Since 2005 CHM has, among other things, repaired the school building, constructed additional classrooms including a computer lab, a school-yard, a boundary wall, and watchman’s house. A temporary addition to the bungalow now holds additional classrooms.

In 2012, the School enrolled over 600 children aged 7 through age 15. Of these 600 students, approximately 400 come from the neighboring villages with the help of four school buses and one jeep operated by CHM. Because the old school building no longer can accommodate the ever-expanding student population, CHM has laid the foundation for a new three-story school building that can accommodate 1,000 children.

Working with the Church of North India

In 2005, CHM undertook the restoration and rebuilding of the Mungeli Church Parsonage. In 2012, CHM undertook the restoration and re-opening of the Church in the nearby village of Bishrampur, which was originally constructed in 1868. These two projects were done for the Church of North India.

Milestones

  • 1887  Mungeli mission station established by Foreign Christian Missionary Society, and first medical services provided as a small clinic by Mrs. George Jackson;
  • 1896   Dr. Anna Dunn Gordon arrives in Mungeli; medical work in Mungeli resumes in former government school building;
  • 1897   First Chapel Constructed;
  • 1897   Construction of Christian Hospital Mungeli;
  • 1925   Dr. Victor Rambo arrives to begin practice;
  • 1930   Construction of Teachout Memorial Hospital Wing;
  • 1935   First CHM “eye camp” held;
  • 1937   Diamond Ward opened;
  • 1941   Sitara Ward opened;
  • 1949   New Hospital Chapel opened;
  • 1956   40-bed Bentley Eye Ward opened;
  • 1958   Construction of Extensions of Administration Building;
  • 1961   Construction of Deep X-Ray Addition;
  • 1961   CHM had 120 beds and averaged 368 in-patients per month;
  • 2003   In July 2003, CHM had 30 available beds and four in-patients;
  • 2004   Intensive Care Unit, two additional Operating Rooms, and Laundry built; Ultrasound machine acquired; online generator (62.5kVA) acquired;
  • 2005   Dharamshala, Dal Bhat Kendra, and HP Rasoi Ghar built for patient relatives; Incinerator acquired; Lapraosopic surgery and TURP with Endourology,
  • 2006   Outpatient Department renovation, C-arm, Upper GI scope, 6 New Doctor’s houses built;
  • 2007   New Labor Room and Nursery built; second large generator (125kVA) acquired, ensuring uninterrupted power supply to growing campus; 100-bed capacity reached;
  • 2008   Licensed Blood Bank and Physiotherapy Department open;
  • 2009   Eye department machines updated and department renovated (second eye microscope, slit lamp, a scan, auto refractometer and a new OR), Mortuary Refrigerator acquired;
  • 2010   Tracheobronchospcope and new Video gastroscope; construction of the Cancer Treatment Facility begins;
  • 2011   CT Scanner, Digital X-ray, PACS, Paperless OPD with a new Hospital management System; 120 beds, 30,000 out-patients, 650 deliveries and 2500 surgeries performed;
  • 2011   Nursing School opens; construction of housing for student nurses begins; Fourth School bus bought.  New Rambo Memorial School Building begun; large solar heater units for hot water put in for all the hospital;
  • 2012   New Color Doppler and Ultrasound machine, new Incinerator, new updated and automated cooking equipment as well as, the first LIFT installed in Mungeli;
  • 2013    New School building (inaugurated the first six ground floor classrooms) and the Cancer Centre is almost complete with machine installed.

History reminds us of where we have come from and inspires the journey ahead. As we mark 100 years of the Christian Hospital Mungeli, we are proud to be a part of this rich legacy and are dedicated to honouring it in all our future efforts. We will 'remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always.'

External Links

Our website: www.chmungeli.org               

Writeup by Gayatri Ganesh: http://nonsensegirl.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/christian-hospital-mungeli/#more-308

Driving in Mungeli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YymdCCcyI-U

Staff Picnic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQaVEEmTlC8

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