Guangdong Toishan (Pinyin: Taishan) Clinic and Christos Hospital (1948-1951)
by Wu Chook Ying & Bruce W. Lo (羅惠寧), 2011
Basic Institutional Data
Year established 1948. Hospital was reorganized as Taishan City People's Hospital in 1952.
At its peak, the hospital has about 20 staff and about 35 beds with an x-ray department, a pathology lab, and an operating room.
Ever since the entry of Adventist message to China, medical ministry played an important role in the spreading of the gospel. It was no exception in the Taishan (台山) region of Guangdong province. At the end of the Sino-Japan War (中日戰爭) in 1945, Lee Yan Nam (李雁南), a generous Adventist businessman in Hong Kong made plans to establish a hospital in his hometown Taishan to serve his fellow town people. He donated a piece of land and the associated building (a garage originally). Because of the Chinese civil war, the plans were not put into operation until 1948.
According to church record, at the biennial council of the China Division January 15-26, 1948, C. H. Davis (戴天德), president of South China Union, reported, “During the year just closed the Lee Brothers and Company [owned by Lee Yan Nam] promised to build a new sanitarium-hospital, to be located at Taishan. Land has been bought and plans for four buildings have been made. There are four small brick buildings on the property, which are to be repaired. Material for the new buildings is now being purchased and construction will begin at an early date. We welcome Dr. Paul Hwang (黃子克) into our midst to do the pioneer work of establishing this institution. The district in which this sanitarium is to be located is a section where many families from overseas including American Chinese, have settled. Chinese business people in America, Australia, and other countries have their homes there, and will be pleased to hear that we have a church and hospital in their home town in China.”3
When Dr. Paul Hwang, formerly acting Medical Director of the Yencheng Sanitarium and Hospital (郾城衛生療養院), Henan (河南), arrived to commence the Adventist medical work in Taishan. He was able to secure suitable living quarters for his family almost immediately, and quickly devoted himself to providing clinical services in the existing buildings.4
At the beginning, only day patients were accepted at the Taishan Clinic (台山診所), as there were no facilities to admit inpatients to stay overnight. Later on the clinic was expanded into a full hospital on the donated land and was known as Taishan Christos Hospital (台山基督醫院). It was a two-story building with the outpatient clinic, pathology lab, X-ray lab, and pharmacy on the ground floor, and inpatient rooms and operating rooms on the first floor. Figure 1 shows that, the hospital was located near the bank of the Tongji River (通济河).
In 1949, with the escalation of the civil war and the advancing People’s Liberating Army crossing to the south of the Yangtze River, Dr. Paul Hwang left for Hong Kong as he was sent by the China Division to go to the United States on November 5 for further training.
Figure 1: Taishan Map showing the location of the Taishan Christo Hospital, near the Tongji River (通济河) and Tongji Bridge (通济橋)
Figure 2: Taishan Adventist Clinic – Dr. Paul Hwang and staff 1949
In early 1950 Dr. Timothy Lo Ka Chung (羅加寵) was called from Hong Kong to take over the medical directorship. In the latter part of the year, he was transferred to Guangxi (廣西) as medical superintendent of Nanning Seventh-day Adventist Hospital (南寧小樂園醫院).
Dr. Cheng Chun Sheng (鄭全成) of the Wai On Hospital-Dispensary (惠安醫院), a graduate of Shiang Ya Medical School (湘雅醫學院) in Hunan (湖南), succeeded Dr. Timothy Lo as medical director at Toishan Hospital. Dr. Cheng brought with him a number of nurses’ aids from Waichow (惠州) to Taishan. Later on, he recruited more graduate nurses. However the hospital did not have sufficient patients because the hospital was not well known among the people of Taishan and many of the locals were skeptical of western medicine. Dr. Cheng decided to go to a nearby long-distance bus terminal, where he found one of the rickshaw pullers who had a harelip. Dr Cheng asked the rickshaw puller to come to the hospital and offered to repair his lip free of charge. The rickshaw puller thought he got nothing to lose, so he agreed to the operation, which turned out to be a success. The rickshaw puller was delighted with his new look, and his new ability to speak clearly. Those who knew him were amazed at the transformation and asked him what happened. He told them that he got the operation done at the Toishan Adventist Hospital free of charge. From that day, the name of the hospital spread, and it did not have to worry about not having enough patients any more.
Another challenge that faced the hospital relates to the lack of security and law and order during those years. Highway robberies were not uncommon at that part of the country. If they could not stop the buses, robbers would spray bullets into the bus. Passengers with bullet wounds would be brought into the hospital. With limited facilities, the operating room nurses and staff had to work long hours and under very difficult circumstances to assist Dr. Cheng to remove the bullets from the patients. But the Lord blessed the staff of the hospital. They were successful in saving lives in numerous occasions. This generated a rather positive public opinion towards our hospital, according to Oilin Pong nee Chu (龐朱愛憐), the then nursing director of the hospital.
However, those still were difficult days, with shortage on nearly everything, including medicine and hospital supplies. The hospital was very dependent on the aids from the US, on even such simple things as milk power, bandage, and cotton wool. In spite of these challenges, the hospital continued to flourish, serving the needs of the Taishan regional community. In 1952 the hospital was re-organized by the new government and was renamed as Taishan City People’s Hospital (台山市人民醫院). Dr. Cheng continued to serve the hospital as associate medical director and a surgeon during the 1950s.
The editor’s note: A portion of information in the article was provided by Cheng Wai Ling (鄭偉玲), daughter of Dr. Cheng Chun Sheng, and Oilin Pong a former Director of Nursing at the Taishan Hospital, both of whom live in Toronto, Canada at the time this article was written.
Figure 3: Taishan Christo Hospital – Dr. & Mrs. Cheng Chun Sheng (front row center, with son seated between them), Medical Director, with hospital staff in 1951. Seated third from the left on the front row is Oilin Pong, on whose account this article was based.
1. Private communication (2011) from Cheng Wai Ling, daughter of Dr. Cheng Chun Sheng.
2. Private communication (2011) from Oilin Pong, former Director of Nursing at Taishan Hospital.
3. Davis, C.B. "Report of the South China Union", The China Division Reporter, March 1948, Vol. 13, No. 3, p. 10-11.
4. "Division Notes", The China Division Reporter, May 1948, Vol. 13, No. 5, p. 8.