India: Celebrating a century of care
by Major Mike Olsen
THE centenary of The Salvation Army’s Emery Hospital in Anand, Gujarat, India, was celebrated by the dedication of a newly-reconstructed facility within the Army’s comprehensive medical services compound. The old and venerable hospital had been damaged in the powerful Gujarat earthquake in January 2001 and had been subsequently torn down.
In 1902, Emery Hospital was the first medical facility in the Anand District and has become a place for people of all castes and beliefs to come for health and healing. On 26 January 2001, a powerful earthquake rolled though northern Gujarat, killing thousands and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. More than 85 Salvation Army centres were significantly damaged, including Emery Hospital.
the new Emery Hospital
A medical response team from Emery Hospital was one of the first medical units to arrive in the epicentre city of Bhuj, which was levelled by the earthquake. Providing food, emergency housing and medical care, the Salvation Army’s hands-on ministry to earthquake victims lasted for months, supported by International Headquarters and donors from around the world.
In early 2002, a team composed of staff from the India Western Territory, the India National Health and Social Services Advisory Council and International Emergency Services met to survey damage to the hospital and plan a recovery. It was decided that the venerable old hospital was mortally wounded and would have to be demolished. Using donor funds and international disaster funds, a plan was developed to rebuild the hospital.
More than 60 corps buildings and institutions in Gujarat were also repaired.
inside the new Emery Hospital
In February of this year, The Salvation Army’s USA National Commander, Commissioner Todd Bassett, assisted by the India Western Territorial Commander, Commissioner Mohan Masih, dedicated the new hospital to the service of God. More than 5,000 people witnessed the dedication and joined in the celebration.‘This hospital is truly a vision that has become reality, a truly first-class facility,’ says International Emergency Services Consultant Major Mike Olsen, who had been a part of the planning and who travelled to India to be at the dedication. The building is now completed but old equipment still requires replacement and updating. Major Seth Le Leu, International Projects Officer, reports, ‘The hospital is now complete, thanks to generous donors and international disaster funds. With a partnership with the City of Leicester (UK), we are now working to provide furnishings that will keep it fully functional.’
What is certain is that, with physicians’ examining rooms, wards, an operating theatre, a laboratory, an intensive care unit and all the components of a first-class general hospital, the centre commences its second century of service to the poor of Anand in good shape.
Major Mike Olsen is a consultant for The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services office