METAS Adventist Hospital, Ranchi

By Narlapati Subhakar Prasad

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Narlapati Subhakar Prasad

Formerly Ranchi Adventist Hospital, METAS Adventist Hospital, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India was established in 1949.

Establishing the Hospital

In 1927 Louise Scholz, a German Adventist nurse, opened a maternity home at the edge of the town of Ranchi.1 Soon it moved to a more central location on 22 Main St. This facility however appears to have closed by 1930.

Dr. Robert V. Shearer, the founder of the Ranchi Adventist Hospital, had come to Southern Asia in 1948 to connect with the Adventist hospital in Gopalganj. However, the hospital there was reduced to a dispensary due to shortage of medicines after the separation of India and Pakistan. Dr. Shearer was then asked to establish a hospital at Ranchi.2

The buildings at Ranchi formerly had been used for a training school and then for the union headquarters, which was shifted to Calcutta.3 The doctor rearranged the old administration building into a small operating room, clinic area, examination room, and office.4

In Calcutta Dr. Shearer located warehouses with medical supplies left behind by the US army. He selected surgical instruments, X-ray and other lab equipment, and even fifty brand-new hospital beds. The caretaker directed him to take whatever his taxi could hold and come back for the rest. The charge was minimal. All the doctor had to do was get an authorization from the local zamindar (local official, landlord). What Dr. Shearer took back with him included a stash of medicines, one set of surgical instruments, and the X-ray machine, but to his dismay the local zamindar refused to give him the required letter of authorization.5

In a few weeks the zamindar’s brother summoned him, as the zamindar had fallen seriously ill. Dr. Shearer gave him emergency treatment and took him home to nurse him back to health. Yet, even after his miraculous recovery, the zamindar refused to grant the letter of authorization.6 A few months later the zamindar came on his own declaring that he was dying and that all the top doctors in the country had failed to help him. He refused to go to any other hospital since the doctor had saved his life once before. Dr. Shearer discovered a tumor blocking the stomach opening. With the few instruments and facilities at hand, the doctor saved his life once more.7

Finally the zamindar gave his fullest support for the establishment of the hospital. He dictated a letter immediately, authorizing the supply of the medical equipment reserved six months earlier in Calcutta. The zamindar also helped him recruit masons, carpenters, and other hard-to-find workers. He arranged for a supply of coal and a crew of brick makers. He also arranged for a supply of fine wood.8 Church leaders were much impressed with what could be obtained with such little finances.9

In 1949 Shearer was sent to the nurses’ training school at Nuzvid Hospital to recruit staff. 10 Mr. Das, a lab technician and nurse, came immediately, while two nurses arrived after their graduation.11 Shearer also had the assistance of Marion Miller, who later served in Surat and Nuzvid, but had started with Dr. Shearer in the Ranchi Hospital.12 He was also supported by the able local Dr. Chelvam.13

Later Developments

In 1953 Dr. Shearer left to further his medical education after arranging with Dr. Nigel Buxton, who had planned to leave the country, to replace him at Ranchi.14 The Buxtons served twice at Ranchi. Nurse Anne Hurle of London was in Ranchi much of the time that Dr. Buxton served.15 In the first ten months of 1954, the hospital had 67 major and 170 minor operations.16

The Buxtons arranged for village market clinics after hours in the hospital and visited five villages every Sabbath afternoon to share the gospel message, to educate the community on good health habits, and to treat minor ailments. When interest was aroused, cottage meetings were held. 17

Dr. Joseph Carl Johannes, the next director, instructed those in the office to not turn away any patient for lack of finances or because the doctor was too busy.18 During 1957 the Ranchi Hospital reported a total of 12,446 out-patient visits, admitted 1,249 in-patients, and performed 195 major surgical procedures and 773 minor operations.19 In 1956 a six-unit family ward was built, which remained occupied most of the time.

In 1958 the business manager, Peter K. Peterson, reported that a commodious air-conditioned operating theater was under construction and that the new church building was ready for dedication.20

Dr. Nigel Buxton, his wife, Elmira Mary, and their three children returned from furlough to take up their duties at the Ranchi Hospital one more time.21 Miss Hilary Cooper came in 1959 to replace Marion Miller.22 When Dr. and Mrs. John Abraham joined the Ranchi Hospital staff, he was the third graduate of CMC Vellore from the Adventist Church.23

Blood Bank

On June 4, 1961, the first blood bank in the city was officially declared open. The hot air oven and sterilizer were obtained from Calcutta. The refrigerator came from Shillong. Other hospitals that earlier had ordered blood from Calcutta were happy to obtain some locally.24

In 1961 Dr. John C. Abraham joined the hospital, on completion of one year house surgency.25

New Nurses’ Hostel

By 1961 the hospital had fourteen 'A' grade nurses and two S' grade nurses. A new home that consisted of eight rooms to accommodate 20 nurses, a comfortable matron's apartment, an attractive parlor, a spacious dining hall, a comfortable kitchen, an open central courtyard, and adequate bathroom facilities was built at a cost of Rs. 46,000.00, provided from the operating funds.26

Dr. Genevieve McWilliams and Dr. Noel Fernando came to connect with the Ranchi Hospital in 1963.27 Dr. Derald Barham with his wife and two sons came from England at the beginning of 1964, thus releasing Dr. Philip Nelson, acting medical director, for his overdue furlough.28 The Barhams left at the beginning of 1967 returning to England where Dr. Barham planned to continue his studies in anaesthesiology.29

Drs. Eric and Susan Moser immunized more than two thousand against smallpox and cholera in ten days in Hazaribagh District, Bihar, aiding in halting an epidemic of serious proportions that raged through several Bihar districts. Vaccine was supplied by the government. Since people were not generally anxious to receive the team, Dr. Eric Moser reported that they “had to chase people down the street and catch them first, then we immunized them.”30 The Ranchi Hospital became self-supporting in 1969 under the direction of Eric Moser.

The potential for a nursing school was realized in the 1970s. The efficient management and operation of the hospital continued under Dr. C. Kurian George’s direction. In 1976 over Rs.55,000.00 in charity was given by the hospital. The 14,565 outpatients and 2,596 inpatients made it possible to supply plenty of work for nurses in training. More than one thousand five hundred thirty-four operations were performed in 1976. The government in 1977 was also interested in a nursing school and was willing to appropriate a considerable sum. They had awarded more than Rs.100,000.00 the previous year (1976) to Dr. Lissie George’s rural public health work of sterilization. She was given acclaim in the papers as a person whose example government workers should emulate.31 Since nursing education required doctors with post-graduate qualifications, Dr. Subodh Pandit was brought in as the next medical director. For various reasons the project was not realized, and Dr. C. Kurian George was brought back to Ranchi.

In 1990 the hospital, through the able services of Dr. Raj Mohan, served 2,003 outpatients and another 1,492 at “eye camps” outside the base hospital. Three hundred ninety-eight eye surgeries were performed. The staff also screened 6,942 school children and dispensed 368 pairs of spectacles to its cataract patients. The hospital also served 8,150 meals to cataract patients and their helpers, who slept on the floor under the elevated beds of the patients.32

Dr. C. Kurian George and Dr. Lissie George were replaced by Dr. Elwin Vedamony, Orthopaedic, and Dr. Jaya Vedamony, Gynae in 1995. Dr. Vedamony was appointed as the medical director who served till 2007. During this time the School of Nursing began in 1996 in affiliation with the Christian Medical Association of India. Jyothi Kennedy, the first principal, was known for her uncompromising discipline. The Vedamonys established vocational training in sewing specially for nursing students and operated a sewing-machine bank, where people could own the sewing machine by paying back in small installments. Local cloth merchants donated sacks of cut pieces, sample cloth pieces, etc. so the cost was negligible. A children’s church started at this time, too, which has continued till this day.33

A two-floored girls’ hostel Miller Block was inaugurated by Marion Miller on October 16, 1997, and two floored Administrative Block with classrooms, open hall, and large kitchen with more washrooms was dedicated by Dr. Jan Paulsen, president, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on March 21, 2000. A School of Medical Records also began in 2003 in June in affiliation with the Christian Medical Association of India. Mrs. Subhashini Chandrika, the one and the only principal, was known for her round-the-clock services with commitment. Unfortunately, she needed to relocate herself due to family reasons, and the School of Medical Records, which produced more than sixty graduates, closed down.

METAS Management

In 2006 division president David Ron Watts and METAS34 president Mulpuri S. Jeremiah agreed that METAS, which operated a highly successful school, college, and hospital in Surat, could replicate the same in other places in the division. Ranchi was one such campus identified by the Division Executive Committee. These campuses needed to be brought into the legal body of METAS so as the to facilitate the flow of administration and funds.35

Dr. Jeremiah’s first action was to provide continuous power supply to the hospital and the entire campus with a much-needed generator.36 Further development took place when the next METAS president, Eliah Srikakolli, sent Dr. Kamalakar Joshi Rayavarapu as the vice- president for Hospital Affairs. He had the private wards converted into deluxe rooms and built the hospital’s first ICU.

He also cleared the entrance area of some old trees, giving a better view of the hospital. Further developments included a well-paved parking area, an additional generator for the hospital, and a special transformer and additional supply of electricity. Dr Kamalakar fostered good rapport with all the specialized surgeons and consultants in the city and invited them to serve at our hospital. As a result, a lot of wealthier patients are also attracted. The canteen that had fallen into disuse was reopened. The hospital established a Dental Care Unit and improved the eye department with the latest Phaco machine and required material.37

In 2021 the hospital was equipped and treated COVID-19 patients.38

Executive Officers

Medical Director/Chief Medical Officer: R. V. Shearer (1950 –1953); Nigel A. Buxton (1954–1956); J. C. Johannes (1957–58); N. A. Buxton (1959–63); Dr. Philip Nelson (1963 and1964); Derald. H. Barham (1964–67); Eric Moser (1968–69); K. P. George (1970 and 1971); C. Kurian George (1972–1984); Subodh. K. Pandit (1985–89); C. K. George (1990–95); Elwin Vedamony (1996–2005); Reeta Ernest (2006–Present).

President and CEO: M. S. Jeremiah (2006–2013); Eliah Srikoli (2013–Present).

Vice-President for Hospital Affairs/Executive Vice President: Cornelius Murmu (2006–2015); Kamalakar Joshi (2015–2017); Cornelius Murmu (2018–Present).

Sources

Gopala Rao, K. “Commissioner Opens Ranchi Hospital Blood Bank.” Southern Asia Tidings, July 15, 1961.

Gopala Rao, K. “1961 A Year of Progress at Ranchi Hospital.” Southern Asia Tidings, April 1, 1962.

Guild, Mrs. C. B. “News.” Southern Asia Tidings, March 1964.

Guild, Mrs. C. B. “News.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1, 1963.

Guild, Nora “Northeast India.” Southern Asia Tidings, February 1967.

Kangas, Janet. “Baby Bashir Reaches for Light.” Mission, Apr-Jun 1992.

Lange, Mrs. O. W. “Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, April 15, 1958.

Lange, Mrs. O. W. “Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, November 1, 1958.

Lange, Mrs. O. W. “News.” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1961.

Lange, Mrs. O. W. Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1961.

Lowry, G. G. “Ranchi Maternity Home.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1928.

Meleen, E. M. “Gleanings.” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1951.

METAS President and CEO Office records, Ranchi, Jharkhand; India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee, August 20, 1949. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Northeast Union Executive Committee, February 17, 1948; August 29, 1948. Southern Asia Division Archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Naden, L. C. “Brevities.” Australasian Record, October 5, 1959.

Neish, R. M. “Ranchi Hospital Team Responds to Government Appeal.” Southern Asia Tidings, Sept 1967.

Peterson, Peter K. “All Round Development in Ranchi Hospital.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1958.

Peterson, Peter K. “Ranchi Hospital Activities.” Southern Asia Tidings, Octo 15, 1954.

Peterson, Peter K. “Ranchi Hospital Makes Steady Progress.” Southern Asia Tidings, January 15, 1958.

Rudge, E. B. “News Flash.” Northern Light, November 1953.

Shearer, R. V. Five Years in India (1948-1953): Adventures of a Young Missionary Doctor, Unpublished manuscript, no date, no publisher. 1-85.

Spiess, F. E. “A Visit to Bihar.” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1951.

Spiess, F. E. “Northeast News Notes.” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1952.

Wallack, Jere. “Ranchi Nursing School.” Lake Union Herald, June 21, 1977.

Notes

  1. G. G. Lowry, “Ranchi Maternity Home,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1928, 6.

  2. “Dr R. V. Shearer’s Location,” Minutes of the Northeast Union Executive Committee, Feb 17, 1948, #4405, 267.

  3. “Northeast Headquarters,” Minutes of the Northeast Union Executive Committee, Aug 29, 1948, # 10748, 2905.

  4. R. V. Shearer, “Five Years in India (1948-1953): Adventures of a Young Missionary Doctor, Unpublished mss, no date, no publisher, 18.

  5. Ibid., 19-21.

  6. Ibid., 34-35.

  7. Ibid., 49-52.

  8. Ibid., 53.

  9. F. E. Spiess, “A Visit to Bihar,” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1951, 2.

  10. R. V. Shearer,” Minutes of the Division Committee, # 11433 Aug 20, 1949, 3083.

  11. Shearer, “Five Years in India (1948-1953),” 27.

  12. E. M. Meleen, “Gleanings,” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1951, 12.

  13. F. E. Spiess, “Northeast News Notes,” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1952, 4

  14. Shearer, “Five Years in India (1948-1953),” 82.

  15. E. B. Rudge, “News Flash”, Northern Light, November 1953, 8.

  16. Peter K. Peterson, “Ranchi Hospital Activities,” Southern Asia Tidings, vol 29, no.20, 1954, 2, 16

  17. Ibid.

  18. Peter K. Peterson, “Ranchi Hospital Makes Steady Progress,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 15, 1958, 2 & 3

  19. Mrs. O. W. Lange, “Miscellany,” Southern Asia Tidings, April 15, 1958, 12.

  20. Peter K. Peterson, “All Round Development in Ranchi Hospital,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1958, 11, 15.

  21. Mrs. O. W. Lange, “Miscellany,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 1, 1958, 8.

  22. L. C. Naden, “Brevities,” Australasian Record, October 5, 1959, 8.

  23. Mrs. O. W. Lange, “News,” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1961, 12.

  24. K. Gopala Rao, “Commissioner Opens Ranchi Hospital Blood Bank,” Southern Asia Tidings, July15, 1961, 6, 7

  25. Mrs. O. W. Lange, Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1961, 5.

  26. K. Gopala Rao, “1961 A Year of Progress at Ranchi Hospital,” Southern Asia Tidings, April 1, 1962, 4, 5.

  27. Mrs. C. B. Guild, “News,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1, 1963, 11.

  28. Mrs. C. B. Guild, “News,” Southern Asia Tidings, March 1964, 16.

  29. Nora Guild, “Northeast India,” Southern Asia Tidings, February 1967, 19.

  30. R. M. Neish, “Ranchi Hospital Team Responds to Government Appeal,” Southern Asia Tidings, September 1967, 16.

  31. Jere Wallack, “Ranchi Nursing School,” Lake Union Herald, June 21, 1977, 2.

  32. Janet Kangas, “Baby Bashir Reaches for Light,” Mission, April-Jun 1992, 18.

  33. Observation by the writer, Chief Chaplain of METAS Group (2009-2020).

  34. The METAS (Medical Educational Trust Association, Surat) Group of Institutions is a part of the vast array of educational and medical institutions run by the Seventh-day Adventist church. It operates a number of schools, colleges, and hospitals across India, namely Surat (Gujarat), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Nuzvid (Andhra Pradesh), and Vyara (Gujarat) (“Our History,” METAS Group of Institutions, accessed October 6, 2021, https://www.metasofsda.in/Our-History).

  35. METAS President and CEO Office records.

  36. Cornelius Murmu, executive vice president, telephone interview by author, July 2009.

  37. Personal knowledge of the author as Communication director and chief chaplain (2009-2020).

  38. Cornelius Murmu, executive vice president, telephone interview by author, May 2021.

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Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar. "METAS Adventist Hospital, Ranchi." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 06, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=1G8L.

Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar. "METAS Adventist Hospital, Ranchi." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 06, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=1G8L.

Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar (2021, October 06). METAS Adventist Hospital, Ranchi. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=1G8L.