Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Mission Hospital" - A historical sketch

Following an article published in Star of Mysore, August, 2006, I compiled some historical information and the same was also published.  That was the Centenary Year.  I reproduce below my compilation from 2006. I also submitted it with a desire to get it printed in its Centenary Souvenir which was not brought out during the celebrations which I attended for an hour, because that is the place where I entered this world and may be, may be, Dr.Stephen [read tribute in link] was the one who first saw me take the first breath. 

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It is Mysore’s good fortune to have hosted Rev. George W. Sawday, a great missionary of the Wesleyan Mission. One of his greatest and important contributions to the Mysore citizenry is the “Mission Hospital”, which completes a grand century, precisely on 21st August, 2006.

On June 3, 1904, Mrs. Mary Calvert Holdsworth (of Hastings, England) laid the foundation stone. On 21st August 1906, HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV declared the building open. The hospital premises, in what was then called the ‘Edgah Extension’, occupy an area of about seven acres, the gift of the Government of His Highness the Maharaja. The building had cost nearly Rs.1,50,000/-. (Source: Handbook of the City of Mysore by TG Lakshmana Rao, President of Municipal Council, 1915 - picture on top from the same book)

This is a handsome, imposing and commodious building and was one of the first buildings seen as one entered the city by train from Bangalore, in those days, understandably. 

The hospital bore the name of “Mary Calvert Holdsworth” who, with her husband, the Rev. W.W.Holdsworth, M.A., lived for several years in the city and took a never-failing interest in the welfare of women and children, esp. in the plague-swept years. (Hence, “Holdsworth Memorial Hospital”). In days when there were only eleven small hospitals and dispensaries in the city, this ‘centre of healing’ with modern equipment came as a great boon to the citizens of Mysore and around. The Wesleyan Mission maintained the hospital.

The “Mission Hospital” (in 1915) had several wards with accommodation for about 70 in-patients for all classes of people, irrespective of caste and creed. One of the chief features was for gosha patients where curtains for privacy surrounded every bed. Also, small separate rooms meant for patients from other distant parts of the state and ‘family’ wards were provided. There was a large Operation Theatre with up-to-that-date features. They were those days’ attractions that had gained great popularity, besides great service.

In 1928 alone, 1,648 in-patients and 11,817 out-patients were treated and the total attendances were 48,097. By then, there were facilities for 100 in-patients indicating the rapid growth of the Hospital. Lamps and apparatus for ultra-violet ray treatment had been added and staffed with European and Indian doctors and nurses. Two of its fine band of doctors, Dr.Alexander and Dr.Anne Hardy Banks, who gave all they had to give, brilliant gifts and tender service in the 1920s, must be remembered here. They died as a result of over-working, in unceasing efforts to heal and help the sick and suffering.

Constance Parsons writes in his book Mysore City: “The hospital is a great memorial to a lovely life; and no less to the generosity and untiring efforts of the Rev. G.W.Sawday.” Rev. Sawday served tirelessly in Mysore for more than 50 years.

In fact, Rev. Sawday, in addition to his multifarious duties, planned and built, and was responsible in collecting subscriptions, with the exception of the Govt. grant, for its regular maintenance. The Mysore Royal Family lent its valuable support with generous donations to the cause and saw that it was on a sound financial footing.

When visiting Mysore, before the opening of the Hospital, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward and Queen Alexandra) on their visit to Mysore were much interested in the progress of work towards the hospital and to evince their sympathy, had sent large autographed portraits to the Hospital for the opening ceremony as they could not visit. Subsequently, King George V and Queen Mary sent theirs. The Maharaja also gave to the hospital a large handsome picture of himself.

HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in his Opening Ceremony Speech, appreciated and admired the yeoman services of Rev. Sawday and his fellow-workers. “The Wesleyan Mission are old friends of us all in Mysore. They were the pioneers of modern education in the City and their good works are well-known to everyone …..” He also went on to request, after announcing a munificent donation of Rs.10,000/- from Her Highness the Maharani of Mysore, the charitably disposed citizens of Mysore to contribute generously.

The solid foundation built then has taken the Hospital where it is today and the good services have been ceaselessly carried on for a hundred years. On a personal note, I have two lucky privileges: of “experiencing” the Hospital’s tender service, having been born there after its golden jubilee year and of living next to what is known as the “Sawday House”, a famous landmark since my great grandfather’s time! Our house used to be identified as the one next to Sawday House.

The Hospital has now greatly grown in stature and reputation. As coincidence would have it, its recognition as a Scientific & Industrial Research Organization by the Dept. of Science & Technology, Govt. of India comes as a fitting tribute during its Centenary Year.

The Highness while declaring the hospital open, had said “I pray that under the Divine blessing, the aspirations of its founders may be fulfilled a thousand-fold." Truly, the great King’s prayers and the efforts of the selfless Rev. Sawday, et al, have not gone in vain. Will never, in spite of the emergence of competition from other commercial medical giants.

Single photo I took with my first digital camera - a tiny and cheap basic model - during the speech after the visual presentation of the hospital's progress.

Photo posted by AKS Jayaram on facebook.