John Bishop Memorial Mission Hospital

An English woman named Isabella Bird who had traveled widely in the Eastern countries, during her youth, looking for an opportunity to serve the people. She had been to India and seen the sufferings of the people, much of them were living below the poverty line. When she went back she married a Scottish doctor named Dr. John Bishop. After few years of her married life, Isabella was left a widow, and again she traveled to the East. About 18888 she visited Srinagar and there she found Dr. Fanny Butler, one of the England 's pioneer women doctors working among the women of that city, but with no hospital as her base. Mrs. Isabella generously gave money for the construction of small hospital at Srinagar for Dr. Butler in memory of her husband and named it as the John Bishop Memorial; Hospital. Not many years later a disastrous flood swept the hospital away.

When the question of rebuilding the hospital was considered, as there already existed the Diamond Jubilee Hospital in Srinagar for both men and women, it was decided that the John Bishop Memorial Hospital should be rebuilt in the town of Anantnag, where it would serve not only the women of the second largest town in Kashmir, but also a great number of people who were living without any medical aid being available in time of need, in a very wide district of valley, plain and mountain.
The town lies at a height of about 5,400 feet above sea level, thirty-four miles Srinagar and close to the river Jhelum that is navigable from this point. The road, which climbs the Bannihal pass (9,000 feet) in the Pir Panjal range and which from there winds over the mountains and through the valleys to Jammu and the Punjab, branches from the Srinagar road a mile or so outside the town. There are also one or two roads ending abruptly a few miles away, and many bridle tracks and through mountains paths radiating to Pehalgam, Kishtwar and the far ranges beyond which lies Gilgit and Ladakh. The place was indeed well chosen as the center for a medical Mission .
When Mrs. Isabella reached Anantnag, she experienced a great difficulty in acquiring a piece of land for the construction of the Hospital. At the request of Field Marshal Lord Roberts who was a personal friend of H.H. Maharajah Gulab Singh, the Maharaja granted him a piece of land. Building of the Hospital was completed and the first in-patient was admitted to the John Memorial Hospital , Anantnag in June 1902. The Church Missionary Society (CMS), London was approached during this period for any doctor who can come to Anantnag and work for the people of the valley.

The pioneer doctor Miss. Minnie Gomery, M.D Gold Medallist of Bishop's College Medical School , Motreal , Canada and her Nursing Sister colleague was Miss. Kate Nownham, who had trained at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Scotland .

Miss M. Gomery and sister Kate Nownham came to Anantnag from Srinagar early in March and although the buildings were still far from finished they began to see a few patients daily. The proper outpatient building was not ready till the beginning of June. So in the mean time they used smaller ward, which is also not completed. As it has neither flooring, nor plaster on the walls it was uncomfortable for both patients and doctors. But inspite of that the patients increased since they have moved to the clean convenient quarters in the older building. Besides the medical work they were very busy in those first few months looking after workmen. After the building was practically finished and though there are many little faults, the whole effect was very good and both the staff and the patients in the hospitals appreciated the comforts. The builder of the hospital was Mohammed, assisted by his son Lassu. Mr. Lassu later continued to work for the hospital almost up to his death, and his crowning joy was the building of chapel in 1943.

They started taking the in-patients on June 23 rd 1902; they had about thirty patients, from three to nine at one time. They had between six beds from Dr. Neve, Srinagar . They had twelve-bedded ward, besides verandah, which used to accommodate more patients. When they had patients more than six they used to be very friendly and grateful and they used to constantly call down blessing on their heads. Patients had so much faith on the staff and the doctors. The pioneering doctors had learnt Kashmiri and used to communicate in Kashmiri to the out and In-patients.

Antibiotics had not been discovered by then and this meant that patients who survived the virulent infections so terribly prevalent had to have long and intensive courses of treatment. Communication was difficult due to lack of roads and transport. The absence pf any trained midwives in the town and district combined to make much of the maternity work a nightmare fraught with tragedy.

Autumn of 1957 saw the wonderful evening when electric light was first switched on in Anantnag, and great was the joy when the hospital blazed with lights. Until then all night work had carried on by the light of hurricane lanterns in the wards and a petromax lamp in the theatre.

In the late 1950's a memorable event occurred. A student who had just complete her studies at the Anantnag Girls High School asked that she might be enrolled as a trainee nurse. There were no educated Kashmiri girls available as candidates for nursing training in those days. This meant that at last a cherished dream became a reality. A Nursing school was started by Sister Grace Butt (and sister Edna Jones who left in 1974) the hospital had training school for auxiliary nurse-midwives, which recognized by the state. In 1964 Dr. N. Fletcher got retired. After her retirement the CMS, London has given over the management of the hospital to the Anglican Church in India , Pakistan , Burma and Ceylon (CIPBC) which later became the Church of North India (CNI) in 1970 after merging with five other Churches. Till date the management of the hospital is being taken care by the Diocese of Amritsar, CNI. In the month of April 1997 Dr. Sarah took over the charge as Medical Superintendent. . She motivated a team of health professional to come all the way from South India and help her in the hospital work. Before coming here she was working as a Gynecologist at a Mission Hospital in Narsapur, A.P. for the past 18 years. There were some initial troubles in reviving the work, but were overcome by much prayer and God's help. The OPD and the in-patients facilities have improved over the years, with construction of a new post-operative ward, the facilities have further advanced. Ultra Sonography investigations have made the diagnosis part of the treatment very much easy.
John Bishop Memorial Hospital
Anantnag – 192 101 (J&K)
Ph. No. 01932-222341- (Fax) 222341
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Medical Superintendent - Dr. K. Sarah