Kathleen Hall and Anguo Hospital
In July 2015 members on the NZCFS Mongolia and North Central China Tour visited Anguo Hospital, Hebei Province. This is now a large flourishing general hospital in the centre of town, with a strong TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) tradition – one of the most important TCM hospitals in China, Anguo being a centre for the TCM market. The hospital is a far cry from its humble beginnings.
The association of this hospital with Kathleen Hall is that she was largely instrumental in its founding and early organisation. The hospital – then known as St. Barnabas – was built in 1927 with diocesan funds from the North China Diocese of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel). Kathleen was asked by the diocesan bishop to organise and administer it, and she became the first Matron. From Rae McGregor’s book recounting Kathleen’s life,
“the hospital… was built on a hill overlooking the countryside and was constructed in a traditional style with tiled roof and brick walls. There was a men’s ward, a woman’s ward and an outpatient’s clinic. It was opened and dedicated in 1927 with great ceremony…It was called St. Barnabas after Barnabas who accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey.”
She worked with another New Zealand nurse, Gladys Blundell. The superintendent and all the other staff were Chinese. While working at Anguo Hospital, she regularly visited the rural areas and she saw the need for smaller clinics in the villages; in 1935 she set up a clinic in Songjiazhuang and worked there until forced to leave six years later due to illness.
To further increase the scope of the He Ming Qing (Kathleen Hall) Memorial Fund, a new project was initiated last year with Anguo Hospital (this is in addition to the 4-year Nursing Scholarships which are continuing). A grant of 8000Yuan (approximately NZ$1800) was given for a ‘Community Nursing Outreach’ project, based at Anguo Hospital. This is being supervised by Ma Baoru, our ex-officio member of NZCFS from Baoding, and managed by Mr Lu.
The Anguo Hospital is committed to strengthening a relationship with New Zealand in the name of Kathleen Hall, and announced that they have pledged a further 20,000 Yuan to the ‘Kathleen Hall Memorial Fund’. This will go towards providing education courses in the countryside around Anguo in community health, assisting groups of volunteer nurses to take health clinics to rural villages and also to assist rural medical professionals to upskill themselves in Anguo Hospital. This part of the project has not been undertaken yet as they are keen for Ma Barou to be involved, and she has been unwell for most of this year. However she is optimistic it will begin very soon.
In the meantime, Mr Lu has been co-ordinating a programme within the hospital, to teach nurses about the work of Kathleen Hall (which was unknown to many of the young members of staff). To facilitate this he has organised competitions within Anguo Hospital, both to promote the ‘spirit of Kathleen Hall’ by awarding certificates to nurses who have been nominated by patients to have shown a caring attitude, and also run essay competitions to increase their knowledge of Kathleen and her work.
In October 2015, the NZCFS Prominent Persons Tour will have a medical focus, and among other places it is planned to visit Anguo Hospital. It is hoped this may lead to further co-ordination between Anguo Hospital and NZ medical personnel on a voluntary basis. It is quite an exciting proposition. Although this would not directly be an HMQ project, the connection is that Kathleen Hall was instrumental in starting up this hospital and was its first Matron.
This year we will be looking for new applicants for the Nursing Scholarship programme.
– Deborah Rhode, He Ming Qing Memorial Committee Chair