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The newly completed Kasterita Hospital in October 1966.

Courtesy of Horrie and Margaret Watts, as published in Dearest Folks: Letters Home From a Missionary Wife and Mother by Margaret Watts with Robyn Priestly (Signs Publishing, 2016).

Kasterita Hospital/Clinic, Bougainville, South Pacific Division

By Robyn Priestley

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Robyn Priestley is a New Zealander who taught at Avondale College in Australia for 40 years. She is a historian with a Ph.D. in early modern family history.

First Published: January 29, 2020

Kasterita Hospital, located at Inus on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, operated from the 1950s until 2014.

From the time Seventh-day Adventists arrived on the island of Bougainville in 1924,1 a significant part of their mission involved providing health care services and promoting healthful living.2 Formally organizing in 1953, the Bougainville Mission located its headquarters at Inus on the northeastern coast of the main island.3 Inus had been the site of the church’s first mission station in the region in 1928, mainly because of its safe anchorage for mission ships.4 The president of the newly organized mission, Pastor Cyril Pascoe, along with his wife, Marie, had served on Bougainville from May 1939 until forced out early in 1942 by the Japanese invasion.5 Pascoe returned to Bougainville as district director in 19486 and began the restoration of the Inus facilities that the war had destroyed.7 After a brief absence, to take charge of the building program required for the newly formed Coral Sea Union Mission,8 he came back to Inus in 1951.9 One of the buildings added to the new headquarters was a small three-roomed clinic with a cement floor, corrugated iron roof, and plaited bamboo walls and windows.10 The clinic made it possible to improve the quality of the medical care offered, although the mission staff had little medical training.11 Cyril and Marie Pascoe, as was quite common for many missionaries of the time,12 had received just a few weeks of basic instruction in tropical medicine.13 The clinic provided medical care to the local SDA population as well as those from the neighbouring villages and the local plantation, and it served as a base for taking some medical care, particularly injections for yaws, to villages further inland.14

After the Pascoes left Bougainville, Lester Lock served as president of the Bougainville Mission from 1957 to 1959, and his wife Edna, a trained nurse, expanded the services that the clinic at Inus offered. From 1960 to 1966 Margaret Watts, an Australian Registered Nurse and wife of Pastor Horrie Watts, president of the Bougainville Mission, and Ruth Matapao, a local SDA whom Margaret trained as a nurse assistant, ran the clinic.15

During the Australian Administration of Papua New Guinea the government provided medical supplies without charge to the various medical facilities on Bougainville, including the clinic at Inus.16 The colonial government also appointed a district medical officer for Bougainville and an Infant and Maternal Welfare Sister (nurse) to provide oversight of the healthcare offered.17

The clinic at Inus provided emergency treatment for infections and injuries, suturing, setting of broken limbs, treatment of ulcers and many other tropical skin diseases, and as much assistance as possible during outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, dysentery, and influenza. It helped with malaria, pneumonia, and many undiagnosed but serious illnesses that would respond to penicillin. Pastor Watts provided a much-in-demand dental service, offering extractions, mercifully with the assistance of Xylocaine. The number of babies delivered continued to increase, and the clinic staff also offered classes in hygiene, pre-natal health, and childcare. In particularly challenging medical cases, the clinic staff consulted by radio with the doctors at the government hospitals in Sohano and Kieta, and the Catholic hospital in Teopasina.18 Occasionally it was possible to send patients to Sohano or Kieta for X-rays and other treatments. However, such lengthy sea journeys were only possible if a boat was available.19

By the 1960s the small clinic proved less and less adequate for the demands made upon it. Its utility room, measuring only 6 by 12 feet, served as the outpatient clinic, treating up to 60 people a day.20 In particular the demands on the obstetric ward were particularly overwhelming. For several years the mission drew up plans and gradually raised funds to build a new hospital. In 1966 Horrie Watts, with the help of Pastor Wilfred Billy, completed a new 12-bed hospital built of cement blocks. The well-equipped structure had an outpatient clinic, a dedicated obstetric wing and nursery, and a general ward. The opening ceremony on October 11, 1966, demonstrated the importance to the local community of the enhanced facility. Hundreds of local people, both SDA and those from the wider community, attended the event. They included the teachers and students from the mission school, the chairman of the local administrative council, the manager of the local plantation and his wife, the Assistant District Commissioner for Bougainville and his wife, the District Medical Officer for Bougainville, the Infant and Maternal Welfare Sister for Bougainville, and representatives of the Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission.21

Through the ensuing years, “Kastiorita Hospital,”22 as the new building became known, continued to offer significant medical care to the district. Mrs Margaret Trim, another Australian Registered Nurse and wife of Pastor Ray Trim, had charge of the hospital during the time her husband served as the president of the Bougainville Mission (1967-1968).23 However, as the 1970s progressed, the facility gradually came to operate only as a clinic. The Bougainville Mission presidents Robert Donaldson and later Pastor Adrian Craig served as its directors. Ruth Matapao, who had worked with Margaret Watts, as well as Margaret Trim, and later Pepi Jonah,24 wife of district director Alwyn Jonah, had charge of the clinic on a day-by-day basis.25 But its role became less crucial, first because of the improvement in road transport to the larger medical facilities in Sohano and Kieta, and then with the transfer of the mission headquarters to Rumba in 1972.26

The clinic continued to operate with some government funding after Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975.27 It functioned as “Kasterita Clinic” until 1995, even during the upheaval of the 10-year civil war on Bougainville.28 Kasterita Clinic reappears in the SDA Year Books in 2001 and 2002,29 but by 2003 the SDA Year Book categorized it as an Aidpost,30 and ceased to list it after 2014. The hospital building opened in 1966 still stands.

Sources

“By special arrangement . . .” Australasian Record, November 22, 1926.

Dever, J. J. “Missionaries on the Move.” Australasian Record, January 29, 1951.

Hawkes, L. N. “Medical Work in the Bismarck-Solomons.” Australasian Record, January 22, 1968.

“It was decided . . .” Australasian Record, April 24, 1939.

Mitchell, A. R. “Kepesia Adventist Hospital, Inus, Bougainville, T.N.G.” Australasian Record, January 2, 1967.

Mitchell, C. E. “But Satan Hindered.” Australasian Record, October 4, 1948.

Mote, F. A. “Coral Sea Union Mission Re-organization.” Australasian Record, May 25, 1953.

Neufeld, Don F. ed. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976.

Neufeld, Don F. ed. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996.

Pascoe, C. “Bougainville Mission.” Australasian Record, April 4, 1955.

Pascoe, C. “Investigating Opportunities in Bougainville.” Australasian Record, January 1, 1940.

Pascoe, Cyril. “Flight from Bougainville. (Continued)” Australasian Record, September 21, 1942.

Pascoe, Cyril. “Flight from Bougainville. (Continued)” Australasian Record, September 28, 1942.

Rose, A. H. “Quarter End at Inus.” Australasian Record, March 27, 1950.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1921-2018.

Tutty, R. H. “Bougainville.” Australasian Record, April 9, 1928.

Tutty, R. H. “Bougainville, Mandated Territory.” Australasian Record, April 28, 1928.

Tutty, H. R. “Language Difficulties. Bougainville.” Australasian Record, February 23, 1931.

Tutty, R. H. “Looking Back Over Thirty-two Years.” Australasian Record, September 5, 1949.

Tutty, R. H. “The Message of Health Reform in the Islands.” Australasian Record, August 26, 1946.

Tutty, R. H. “Visiting New Missions on Bougainville.” Australasian Record, January 27, 1936.

Watts, Margaret. “More Patients, No Hospital.” Australasian Record, December 12, 1964.

Watts, Margaret and Robyn Priestley. Dearest Folks. Letters home from a missionary wife and mother. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing, 2016.

White, H. “Inaugural Executive Meeting, Coral Sea Union Mission.” Australasian Record, March 28, 1949.

Wilson, George F. “Rumba Central School.” Australasian Record, November 11, 1957.

Notes

  1. R. H Tutty, “Looking Back Over Thirty-two Years,” Australasian Record, September 5, 1949, 4, 5.

  2. R. H. Tutty, “The Message of Health Reform in the Islands, Australasian Record, August 26, 1946, 4, 5; R. H. Tutty, “Language Difficulties. Bougainville,” Australasian Record, February 23, 1931, 4, 5; C. Pascoe, “Investigating Opportunities in Bougainville,” Australasian Record, January 1, 1940, 4, 5.

  3. F. A. Mote, “Coral Sea Union Mission Re-organization,” Australasian Record, May 25, 1953, 2, 3.

  4. R. H Tutty, “Bougainville, Mandated Territory,” Australasian Record, April 28, 1928, 3; R. H Tutty, “Bougainville,” Australasian Record, April 9, 1928, 3.

  5. Cyril Pascoe, “Flight from Bougainville, (Continued),” Australasian Record, September 21, 1942, 4, 5; Cyril Pascoe, “Flight from Bougainville, (Continued),” Australasian Record, September 28, 1942, 4, 5.

  6. C. E Mitchell, “But Satan Hindered,” Australasian Record, October 4, 1948, 5.

  7. R. H Tutty, “Looking Back Over Thirty-two Years,” Australasian Record, September 5, 1949, 4, 5; A. H Rose, “Quarter End at Inus,” Australasian Record, March 27, 1950, 3.

  8. H. White, “Inaugural Executive Meeting, Coral Sea Union Mission,” Australasian Record, March 28, 1949, 4, 5.

  9. J. J. Dever, “Missionaries on the Move,” Australasian Record, January 29, 1951, 3.

  10. Margaret Watts and Robyn Priestley. Dearest Folks. Letters home from a missionary wife and mother. (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing, 2016), 23, 26.

  11. C. Pascoe, “Bougainville Mission,” Australasian Record, April 4, 1955, 5.

  12. “By special arrangement. . . ,” Australasian Record, November 22, 1926, 8.

  13. “News Notes. It was decided. . . ,” Australasian Record, April 24, 1939, 8.

  14. R. H. Tutty, “Visiting New Missions on Bougainville,” Australasian Record, January 27, 1936, 4.

  15. Margaret Watts and Robyn Priestley. Dearest Folks. Letters home from a missionary wife and mother, 26.

  16. Ibid., 22; Horrie Watts and Mrs Margaret Watts interviewed by the author, Cooranbong, November 7, 2019; George F Wilson, “Rumba Central School,” Australasian Record, November 11, 1957, 5, 6.

  17. Margaret Watts and Robyn Priestley. Dearest Folks. Letters home from a missionary wife and mother, 38, 163 260, 263.

  18. Ibid, 34.

  19. Ibid, passim.

  20. Margaret Watts, “More Patients, No Hospital”, Australasian Record, December 12, 1964, 2,3.

  21. A. R. Mitchell, “Kepesia Adventist Hospital, Inus, Bougainville, T.N.G.” Australasian Record, January 2, 1967, 11, 12; Horrie Watts and Margaret Watts interviewed by the author, Cooranbong, November 7, 2019; Margaret Watts and Robyn Priestley. Dearest Folks. Letters home from a missionary wife and mother, 257-262.

  22. “Australasian Division. Hospitals and Sanitariums,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973/4, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978); Don F. Neufeld, ed., Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976), 720.

  23. L. N. Hawkes, “Medical Work in the Bismarck-Solomons”, Australasian Record, January 22, 1968, 3, 6.

  24. Don F. Neufeld, ed., Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976) 720.

  25. Adrian Craig interviewed by the author, January 29, 2020.

  26. “Bougainville Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1973/4), 109.

  27. Don F. Neufeld, ed., Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996), 849.

  28. “South Pacific Division. Clinics and Aidposts,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994); “Papua New Guinea Union Mission. Clinics and Dispensaries,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1995).

  29. “Papua New Guinea Union Mission. Clinics and Dispensaries,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2001, 2002).

  30. “Papua New Guinea Union Mission. Clinics and Dispensaries,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2003, 2004); “Bougainville Mission. Clinics and Dispensaries,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).

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Priestley, Robyn. "Kasterita Hospital/Clinic, Bougainville, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed April 23, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CI82.

Priestley, Robyn. "Kasterita Hospital/Clinic, Bougainville, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access April 23, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CI82.

Priestley, Robyn (2020, January 29). Kasterita Hospital/Clinic, Bougainville, South Pacific Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 23, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=CI82.