METAS Adventist Hospital, Surat

By Narlapati Subhakar Prasad

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Narlapati Subhakar Prasad

The Adventist Hospital in Surat is a facility that offers numerous specialties, striving to combine the latest facilities with the caring service that mission hospitals are known for.

Forerunner of the Hospital

Adventist medical work in Surat began through the pioneering missionary work of Pastor R. Allen Smithwick and his wife, a graduate nurse.1 The Smithwicks were posted in Surat in 1923 and embarked on a two-year study of the Gujarati language.2 In 1925 they shifted their headquarters to Udhna, about four kilometers out of Surat.3 It is most likely that they formally opened the dispensary in Udhna in 1926, because it is listed for the first time in the 1927 SDA Yearbook.4 However, the Smithwicks were known to dispense medicines from their home before that,5 and Mrs. Smithwick reportedly rode her bicycle around to aid those too sick to come to the clinic.6 A certain Dr. Dinshaw joined the Adventist Church through association with the dispensary. He was a Parsi physician who was faithful to the Church, while being highly regarded by the government for his work among the lepers.7

When the Smithwicks returned to the United States in 1929, T. K. Ludgate and his wife took over the work in Udhna.8 The following year, when Smithwick informed the division that they would not be returning to India, the Langes were assigned to Gujarat, since Sylvia Lange was also a nurse. Upon the advice of Ludgate, the Langes were posted in Surat.9 The Langes and their two daughters arrived in Surat towards the end of 1930.10 They engaged in the study of Gujarati,11 and during hill leave Ludgate himself assisted the Langes with language study.12

When the Ludgates went on furlough, O. W. Lange was assigned to direct the work in Gujarat, while his wife took charge of the dispensary13 with the help of a medical practitioner, Dr. Edal Berham, who assisted once a week.14 When T. K. Ludgate returned from furlough in 1934 and resumed responsibility of the Gujarat Mission, he shifted the headquarters to Civil Lines, Surat, and the dispensary in Udhna officially closed.15

Establishing the Hospital

In 1935 the division committee appointed a subcommittee of six to study a proposal for a hospital in Surat. This was approved16 and Dr. George A. Nelson was transferred from the Narsapur Mission Hospital in Andhra.17 At the same time, the division committee also made financial provision for this hospital.18 Dr. Nelson immediately set about assembling a team. Beginning in 1937 the hospital operated at rented quarters at Civil Lines. Finally, in 1939, Dr. Nelson was able to purchase property, and in 1940 he added to this property.19

The General Conference contributed Rs. 40,000 for the initial purchase of land.20 The trustees of the Seth Esmailji Ebrahim Haiderali Kurwa Trust donated Rs 30,000 for the administration building which included a lobby, offices for business, and offices for doctors and nurses. Other rooms housed the x-ray, chemical laboratories, diathermy, etc., with spacious verandas front and back; a surgical unit, with two large operating rooms, and three additional rooms, with appropriate storage space; and a two-ward patient building with a 50-bed capacity,21 though initially the hospital was reported as having 25 beds.22

For ease of commuting and in the interest of saving time, the doctor shifted his residence from the Malabar House in Dutch Garden to Lal Imlee, named for the many red Tamarind trees that abounded in the area.

Dr. Nelson recruited some of his former staff from Narsapur, Mr. and Mrs. Devadas Jacob and Mrs. T. John to join him in Surat, but also relied on local people such as Mrs. M. Solanki, Mr. Chadulal Vaniawala, Mr. Harkishan Das, Mr. Lakdawala, Dr. Dinshaw, and Dr. Noman Maskati. Some of the outstanding and dedicated nurses who worked with Dr. Nelson included Sr. Raslamma, Sr. Kandamma, Sr. Anamma, Sr. Mary Matthew, Sr Salomi, and Sr. Dinabhai Solanki.

The initial buildings were designed by George Frederick Herbert Ritchie, who had studied engineering and architecture as an apprentice in Jackson and Barker’s firm. These plans were the last major contribution to the division before his untimely death in 1939.23

The opening ceremony of Surat Hospital was held January 19, 1942. Dr. Nelson gave a brief report of the hospital construction and stated that another Rs 100,000 would be needed to complete the building envisioned. He reported that in the last five years in the old building, 35,759 patients had been treated, 3,045 had been admitted, and 2,483 operations had been performed.

The climax of the ceremony came when the chief guest, Justice D. V. Vyas, of the District and Sessions Court, addressed the gathering. He spoke on community health and the high value of healing through such hospitals as this one and unveiled a portrait of E. E. Kurwa, in whose memory a large donation had been made.24

Further Development

In 1945 the Surat Hospital Trust Association was registered, with the division officers as officers of the trust. This was one of the first legal bodies in the division after the India Financial Association.25

In June 5, 1948, a little chapel was dedicated. This was intended to connect with the medical missionary program for the city of Surat.26 A second floor of the hospital building was added in 1956.27 Two new workers’ quarters were constructed in 1966.28

At the time of the silver jubilee in 1967, the hospital was listed as a 50-bed hospital. However, a new Silver Jubilee Block opened by the mayor of Surat on September 3, 1970, increased the bed capacity to 84. This included eight private rooms, a nurses’ station, a doctor’s office, and a modern nursery with a viewing window. The medical director, Dr. Richard L. Nelson, welcomed some 200 visitors, including leading citizens of Surat. Mayor V. B. Shastri showed his support by staying throughout the program, including the hospital tour.29

In 1976 hospital administrator, P. K. Peterson, and Dr. Chandrasekhar set in motion developments that led to the establishment of a nursing school. To comply with government requirements, a new ward was constructed which increased bed capacity; more BSc nurses were employed, a new x-ray unit was added, and a hostel was built. The school began on August 1, 1978, with 12 students under Rayavarapu Isaiah.30 Three years later the first class of nurses graduated.31

In 1981 a new ten-bed children’s ward was inaugurated. Mr. and Mrs. N. Mascati, who donated Rs. 35,000 towards this facility, graced the occasion with their presence.32

The intensive care unit began in 1986 during the tenure of the medical director, Dr. Timothy Johnas; business manager, G. S. Nelson; and nursing superintendent, R. Isaiah.

The first floor of the hospital was inaugurated on March 10, 1987, to commemorate 50 years of medical services at Surat. Dr. George Solanki, mayor of Surat, graced the occasion.

On January 19, 1992, a thanksgiving service celebrated 50 years of existence of the hospital. During this occasion, Thomas Jacob, Pramtesh Parmar, and Perlin Arlic were honored for the services rendered by their parents both at Nanpura and in the existing hospital.33

An extension clinic was inaugurated under the direction of Thomas Jacob, in July 1996, at Limbayat, which is about 25 kilometers from the hospital. Very soon a drug rehabilitation center was started by Dr. Paul Francis; with Madhu Verma, business manager; Pramtesh Parmar, PRO; R. Isaiah, director of the school of nursing; and Jessie Isaiah, nursing superintendent.

Development for the Twenty-first Century

At the turn of the century, the extension centers slowly faded away and the main hospital was near closure, with just four patients left. Adding to those woes, a severe earthquake struck Surat on January 26, 2001. Then, on February 26, 2001, Dr. M. S. Jeremiah, who had upgraded the higher secondary school in Surat to college level in 1998, was given charge of the hospital too. He immediately set about improving the situation and achieved progress that would have been hard to imagine. The existing ground floor was renovated and a new wing added in 2001. In 2002 the Medical Educational Trust Association, Surat (METAS) of Seventh-day Adventists was registered as a legal body replacing the Surat Hospital Trust Association, which had served only the hospital and did not cover the college.

Dr. Jeremiah added two more floors to the hospital in 2006. While the work was in progress, one of the worst floods of recent times inundated the ground floor.34 The catastrophe failed to shatter his dreams and, with his vision ever before him and with the help of building insurance funds from Adventist Risk Management, he proceeded to reconstruct the most advanced hospital in the division. In this he was ably supported by the vice president for hospital administration (VPHA), Dr. Anil Kumar Chillimuntha.

METAS Adventist Hospital developed into a multi-specialty 300-bed hospital, offering intricate surgeries and trauma care, with international-level facilities and the services of more than 200 specialists and super-specialists, trained nurses, and a host of medical technicians and staff available to citizens 24/7.

Elected in 2014, the new president and CEO, Dr. Eliah Srikakolli, with the assistance of the VPHA, Dr. Anil Kumar, sought and achieved, in 2016, accreditation by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers. Dr. Anil Kumar was later appointed NABH assessor. The hospital commenced diet counseling in 2017; added a renal transplant center and corneal transplant center in 2018; commenced radiation, oncology, mobile clinics, and telemedicine in 2019; added a lifestyle center, cosmetic surgery, a drug rehabilitation center, satellite units, liver transplants, MRI Center, HVAC systems, IVF Unit, and a modernized cafeteria in 2020; and introduced diploma and paramedical hospital-based courses through organizational partnership development.

Nursing Superintendents

On June 21, 1951, Miss White joined the hospital, replacing Miss Miller who went to assist Dr. Shearer in the Ranchi Hospital.35

Miss Lois Votaw joined the Surat Hospital as staff on April 14, 1957.36

Miss Edna Stoneburner, who spent a term of service as director of nurses at the Surat Hospital in India, returned to her homeland in 1963.37

Mr. and Mrs. Elsworth Hetke, graduates of Loma Linda University, went as missionaries to Surat. Mrs. Hetke served as superintendent of nurses at the Surat Hospital, and her husband served as pastor of the local church at Surat.38

Facing COVID-19

During the COVID 19 pandemic, the hospital opened doors for treating patients, earning appreciation from the city commissioner and the good will of the society. The president and VPHA even conducted funeral services for fellow Christians.

During the second wave of COVID 19, securing a bed in a hospital became a challenge almost everywhere in the country. Gujarat was among the worst affected states and in Gujarat the cases were highest in the Athwa zone where the hospital is located. Due to increased demand, there was an acute shortage of clinical oxygen. More than 100 patients on oxygen were advised to transfer to other hospitals. However, none left as they felt secure where they were. Miraculously, two hours before the oxygen was expected to run out, one of the suppliers delivered oxygen to the hospital. Subsequently, a permanent 13 kl clinical oxygen storage tank for the hospital was installed on May 26, 2021, and an oxygen generating plant sponsored by ADRA is in the plans.

Name Changes

At first the hospital was referred to merely as the Surat Hospital. In 1945, when the trust was registered, it officially became the Surat Hospital Trust Association, though it was commonly called the SDA Mission Hospital. In 2002 the Medical Educational Trust Association Surat of Seventh-day Adventists replaced the former trust and this became the legal name. However, the institution is popularly referred to as the Metas Adventist Hospital.

Medical Directors/Chief Medical Officers

George A. Nelson (1936-1942); I. S. Walker (1942); J. C. Johannes (1942-1945); T. R. Flaiz (1945-1946); A. E. Coyne (1946-1947); N. A. Buxton (1947-1951); R. H. Dunn (1951-1953); D. W. Smith (1953-1956); J. C. Johannes (1956-1957); O. B. Hauser (1957-1965); P. M. Miller (1965-1966); Moses Das (1967); Richard Nelson (June 1968-June 1971); William Borge (June 1971-June 1973); Grant White (June 1973-July 1974); Susan Moser (July 1974-July 1975); Mohan Chandrashekar (July 1975-1984); Mrs. P. M. S. Chandrasekhar (1985-1986); A. Timothy Jonahs (October 1986-April 1991); Philip Mathew (August 1991-April 1994); Paul Francis (April 1994-January 1998); Mallika Gaikwad (January 1998-June 1999); Sujay Chauhan (July 1999-June 2000); Kalawathi Ernest (June 2000-July 2001); Mohan Chandrashekhar, VPHA (July 2001-2007); Anil Kumar Chillimuntha, VPHA (2007-present).

Manager/Hospital Administrator

Roland W. Shorter (1946-1951); M. Amirtam (1951-1952); Ishwar Rao (1952-1955); S. M. Moses (1955-1966); M. Amirtam (June 1966 for 6 months); P. K. Peterson (1966-1969); Albert Miller (February 1969-December 1972); I. D. Solomon (1972-1973); S. Pandit (1973-1974); Sable (1975-1977); Kamble (1977-1981); Madhu Samuel (1981-1985); Robert Kan (1986); George Nelson (1987-1990); Pramtesh Parmar (1997); Leroy Samuel, Acting Administrator (January 1998-January 2000); Pramtesh Parmar (2001, 3 Months Acting); Anil Kumar Chillimuntha, VPHA (2006-present)

President and CEO

Mulpuri S. Jeremiah (2001-2014); Eliah Srikakolli (2014-present).

Sources

Blue, I. F. “Around the Field Visiting the Stations.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1925.

Chandrasekhar, Dr Mohan. “Second Nursing School Opens.” Southern Asia Tidings, September 1978.

Garner, R. A. “Ritchie.” Eastern Tidings, October 15, 1939.

Gibb, A. E. “News from Here and There.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1963.

Guild, Nora. “Leading Surat Citizens Attend Silver Jubilee Block Opening.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1970.

Hubley, R. A. “News Notes.” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1923.

James, J. S. “A Few Gleanings.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1931.

Kuester, W. F. “Farewell Reception for the Smithwicks.” Canadian Union Messenger,” April 30, 1960.

Lange, Mrs. O. W. “Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1959.

Lange, O. W. “The Local Meeting in Gujerat.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1932.

Larson, L. J. “Meet Our Workers.” Eastern Tidings, March 15, 1953.

Ludgate, T. K. “A Visit to Kalyan.” Eastern Tidings, December 1, 1930.

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

Minutes of the Bombay Union Mission Committee. September 30, 1930, and January 4-6, 1932.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee December 15-22, 1935, and November 27, 1945.

Morgan, Mrs. Ione. “Alumnus Under Appointment to Mission Hospital.” North Pacific Union Gleaner, April 11, 1966.

“News Notes.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1923.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1927, 1934, 1946.

Shephard, L. C. “Opening of Surat Hospital.” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 1942.

Shinge, R. S. “Central India Union.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1981.

Singh, Juanita. “Project Galaha.” Southern Asia Tidings, May 1981.

Tarr, A. F. “Gleanings.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1948.

Thomas, George C. “News.” Southern Asia Tidings, July 1966.

“Udhna.” Eastern Tidings, August 1, 1932.

White, J. Ina. “Miscellany.” Southern Asia Tidings, April 15, 1957.

Wilson, Johnny. “Surat Hospital Completes 50 Years.” Southern Asia Tidings, May 1992.

Notes

  1. W. F. Kuester, “Farewell Reception for the Smithwicks,” Canadian Union Messenger,” April 30, 1960, 110.

  2. R. A. Hubley, “News Notes,” Eastern Tidings, December 15, 1923, 5.

  3. “News Notes,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1923, 3.

  4. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1927), 202.

  5. I. F. Blue, “Around the Field Visiting the Stations,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1925, 2.

  6. W. F. Kuester, “Farewell Reception for the Smithwicks,” Canadian Union Messenger,” April 30, 1960, 110.

  7. O. W. Lange, “The Local Meeting in Gujerat,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1932, 7.

  8. J. S. James, “A Few Gleanings,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1931, 3.

  9. “O. Lange’s Location,” Minutes of the Bombay Union Mission Committee # 135, September 30, 1930, 49.

  10. T. K. Ludgate, “A Visit to Kalyan,” Eastern Tidings, December 1, 1930, 6.

  11. J. S. James, “A Few Gleanings,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1931, 3.

  12. “Pandit for O. W. Lange During Hill Leave,” Minutes of the Bombay Union Mission Committee #315, January 4, 5, 6, 1932.

  13. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1934), 102.

  14. “Udhna,” Eastern Tidings, August 1, 1932, 7.

  15. The listing of the Udhna dispensary was discontinued from the 1935 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook and thereafter.

  16. “Medical Problems,” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee # 5254, And “Surat Hospital,” December 15-22, 1935, 1272. This was approved in action #529, 1287.

  17. “Dr G. A. Nelson,” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee #5293, 1287. Dr. Nelson had graduated from the College of Medical Evangelists in 1924. After establishing the Surat Hospital he continued there till 1942. See L. J. Larson, “Meet Our Workers,” Eastern Tidings, March 15, 1953, 8.

  18. “Financial Provision for Surat Hospital,” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee # 5254, Dec 15-22, 1935, 1287-1288.

  19. The property deed from 1939 bears the signature of Dr. Nelson and the one from 1940 is signed by Dr. Nelson and Marion Belchambers.

  20. L. C. Shephard, “Opening of Surat Hospital,” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 1942, 4, 5.

  21. Ibid.

  22. Nora Guild, “Leading Surat Citizens Attend Silver Jubilee Block Opening,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1970, 1, 4.

  23. R. A. Garner, “Ritchie,” Eastern Tidings, October 15, 1939, 7-8.

  24. L. C. Shephard, “Opening of Surat Hospital,” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 1942, 4-5.

  25. “Surat Hospital Trust Association—Meeting,” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division Committee # 9227, November 27, 1945, 2524. See “Legal Bodies,” SDA Yearbook, 1946, 185.

  26. A. F. Tarr, “Gleanings,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1948, 7.

  27. Nora Guild, “Leading Surat Citizens Attend Silver Jubilee Block Opening,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1970, 1, 4.

  28. George C. Thomas, “News,” Southern Asia Tidings, July 1966, 28.

  29. Nora Guild, “Leading Surat Citizens Attend Silver Jubilee Block Opening,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1970, 1, 4.

  30. Dr. Mohan Chandrasekhar, “Second Nursing School Opens,” Southern Asia Tidings, Sept 1978, 13.

  31. R. S. Shinge, “Central India Union,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1981, 11

  32. Juanita Singh, “Project Galaha,” Southern Asia Tidings, May 1981, 13

  33. Johnny Wilson, “Surat Hospital Completes 50 Years,” Southern Asia Tidings, May 1992, 15.

  34. The waters of a flood in 1959 rose up to the waist but the water remained one inch below the level of the main buildings: Lal-Imli bungalow, where several staff families reside, had 18 inches of water on the ground floor and 5-8 feet of water around the bungalow. See Mrs. O. W. Lange, “Miscellany,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 15, 1959, 8.

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

  36. J. Ina White, “Miscellany,” Southern Asia Tidings, April 15, 1957, 15.

  37. A. E. Gibb, “News from Here and There,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, May 1963, 16

  38. Mrs. Ione Morgan, “Alumnus Under Appointment to Mission Hospital,” North Pacific Union Gleaner, April 11, 1966, 16.

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Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar. "METAS Adventist Hospital, Surat." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 24, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9AMS.

Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar. "METAS Adventist Hospital, Surat." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 24, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9AMS.

Prasad, Narlapati Subhakar (2021, August 24). METAS Adventist Hospital, Surat. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9AMS.