A fund in memory of Bryan and Helen Thompson was set up in 2008. The Thompsons were much loved doctors who worked tirelessly amongst the poor and disadvantaged especially in Bihar. Their memorial fund, which continues to receive gifts, is used to support work in smaller mission hospitals.
Friends of Vellore UK have been instrumental in promoting CMC’s work amongst smaller mission hospitals in India. We began by funding three years of a new post of Mission Network Consultant at CMC. Dr Sam David who undertakes this role has built links with mission hospitals who might benefit from a partnership with CMC. He has also raised the profile of mission hospitals within CMC, encouraging more to serve in this way. His pastoral gifts are greatly used in supporting CMC undergraduates and postgraduates working in over 20 mission hospitals on short or long term placements.
CMC have now absorbed Sam’s post into their ongoing budget and have created a Missions Department demonstrating their commitment to help these much lower resourced hospitals. A significant number of mission hospitals have asked to establish some form of operational partnership with CMC so that the high level of trust and credibility of CMC can be transferred to these hospitals. This will ease the very high workload of CMC and help sick people to be confident of the care they could receive more locally. This sounds exciting but in reality there are enormous legal, funding, governance and operational challenges to be worked through.
The Missions Department are currently working closely with three of these hospitals to look at developing formal partnerships with them. The first mission Memorandum of Understanding between CMC and CSI Erode Hospital was signed at the January 2016 Council meeting. This marked the beginning of a new direction in mission renewal initiatives for CMC.
More recently, CMC have responded to the need at Kotagiri Medical Fellowship Hospital (KMF). This is about 7 hours drive to the west of Vellore. CMC have sent several doctors to work there and have many Trustees on the Board. The hospital has been growing steadily, with improved services and increasing patient numbers. New staff have joined and gradually the locals are gaining confidence in using the patient services.
Earlier this year we sent £30,000 to enable them to purchase much needed equipment for their lab, which they have named after Ms Monica Sutton. Monica Sutton, a British missionary and lab technician, along with Vera Nowell, a pharmacist from England were the pioneering founders of what is now KMF.
Today, fewer healthcare professionals are keen to work in mission hospitals. Those that do offer to go have either a strong calling from God, a passion for social justice or a reason to keep the flame burning in their local area. However, Dr Sam is working hard to raise the profile of this most important work at CMC and encouraging staff to consider getting involved either by going or praying for the work.