Living Revolution | Medicine and Public Health

A "Mobile Hospital" in the Mountains

- China Pictorial Jan. 1966, p.6

The "mobile hospital" at Kuchai Village presented an interesting and novel appearance. It had been organized by Chinyuan County, Shansi Province, to tour the Taiyo Mountains and just happened to be leaving for another village.

It was early in the morning. Medicine chests, bed rolls and other effects were piled neatly round two carts outside the hospital. The horses, already harnessed, were impatient to move. A woman commune member in the crowd that had come to see the medical workers off handed her baby over to her friend and came up to one of the nurses. She thrust a parcel into her hands but the nurse kept pushing it back. With a tug, some boiled eggs and walnuts fell onto the ground.... When the nurse said goodbye to her, the woman could hardly keep back her tears.

The 18 personnel and the two carts fully laden with medical equipment, making their way along a mountain path, arrived at Toupi Village on the same day. Crowds of people met them on the outskirts. Children were running to and fro, shouting at the tops of their voices, "The mobile hospital has come!" Inside the village, people were busy preparing rooms and making tea.

By the next day, seven rooms allocated to the hospital had been made spic and span. The walls had been pasted with white paper and white cloth hung across the rafters for a ceiling. After disinfection, the rooms were turned into a clinic, operating room, laboratory, pharmacy with Chinese and Western medicines and patients' wards. I asked Director Ma Tung-chiung of the hospital when they were going to receive patients. "We work round the clock," he replied. "As soon as we arrived yesterday we made some calls and scheduled some operations for tomorrow."

Doctor Hsiao Lin-chang was in charge of the operating room. Sterilization and operation procedure were as strict as in any regular hospital. That day they did anal fistula, varicose veins and cataract operations, which the local clinics were not equipped for.

Though small in size, the hospital maintains a wide range of activities. Clinics are held providing Chinese traditional treatment and Western treatment. Doctors make rounds in neighbouring villages in groups and bring back patients for hospitalization. In their free time, the medical workers cut firewood, fetch water and do washing for the patients. They also go about in the hills collecting medicinal herbs which they process and administer to the patients free of charge.

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