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Sin-lâu Hospital,

History of the First Western Hospital in Taiwan

Khòan-sai Street Clinic(看西街醫館)
The first modern hospital in Taiwan, commonly called the “Sin-lâu Hospital” (新樓醫院), was established by Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell(馬雅各醫生), of the English Presbyterian Church. On May 28, 1865, Maxwell and three assistants, N̂g ka-tì (黃嘉智藥師), a pharmacist, Gô• Bûn-chúi(吳文水先生), his assistant, and Tân Chú-lōo(陳子路傳道), a preacher, accompanied by Rev. Carstairs Douglas(杜嘉德牧師), made their landing on Taiwan at Kî-āu (旗后) (in present day Kaohsiung). After they landed, they picked the capital, Tainan, to start their medical mission. And on June 16, having being given a house to rent by the English customs officer William Maxwell, Dr. Maxwell began his missionary activities. This was the start of medical mission work in Taiwan, and Taiwan’s first clinic was named the Khòan-sai Street Clinic(看西街醫館).
Very soon after Maxwell began practicing medicine in Tainan, the number of his patients grew rapidly. This was due to his superior skills and professional knowledge. At the same time, people began to get curious about his message of Christ. Unfortunately, his popularity also led to the panic of some local doctors, and rumor began to circulate about “foreign doctors” who “kill people for their organs and eyes to make medicine”. One day Maxwell was surrounded by a xenophobic crowd, who began to break the windows and doors of the clinic, and Maxwell was forced to flee. Thus Maxwell left Tainan for the first time after practicing medicine there for only twenty-three days.
Kî-āu Clinic(旗后醫館)
He went to Kî-āu (旗后), a protected zone where a British consulate was located, in late July, 1865, rented a house there, and converted it into a chapel and small hospital with eight-patient capacity. This was Taiwan’s first hospital in late September, 1866.
His work at
Kî-āu (旗后) progressed and he won the trust of the Siraya (西拉雅族) hill people nearby. Very often they would make long trip to see him. At the same time the work of evangelism also progressed, although some frustration and incidents did occur. In one such incident, an evangelist Chng Chheng-hong(莊清風傳道師) was killed and another evangelist Ko Tióng(高長傳道) was jailed for fifty days. Although this kinds of things happened, Maxwell’s determination to preach to more people about the Gospel did not waver, and he made plans to go back to Tainan, the capital.

-ló–kháu Clinic(二老口醫館)
In December 1868, Dr. Maxwell and his assistant Gô• Bûn-chúi(吳文水先生) went to Tainan once again and rented a house there for evangelism a few weeks later. This was the Khó• family(許厝) house at
-ló–kháu (二老口).
This time, because Dr. Maxwell’s Taiwanese was much better and his fame as a physician even more well-known, people began to come to him in great numbers. He cured them of all sort of bacteria-infected diseases, even people who were near death. They came from places as far as north Tainan county and Kaohsiung county. Most of these patients also became Christians and founders of churches in southern Taiwan. At this time people also became more accepting of western medicine.
In his six and half years of medical missionary work in Taiwan Maxwell traveled all over central and southern Taiwan and established three mission areas: the Sirayas (西拉雅族) in the south, Hoyas (和雅族) in the center, and the Pazehs (巴宰族) in the north near Puli (埔里). This had a deep influence on later medical missionary work.
After Maxwell left and returned to England, Dr. Matthew Dickson (德馬太醫生) succeeded him in his work. Working from 1871 to 1878, Dr. Dickson quickly won praise from many quarters and the trust of the highest government officials in Taiwan, for his excellent medical skills.

Sin-lâu Hospital (新樓醫院)
From 1879 on, Dr. Peter Anderson (安彼得醫生) took over as head of the clinic Maxwell established in Tainan and began planning new hospital constructions. Land was bought from So•
Bān- (蘇萬利), who sold his sugar field to English Presbyterian Church. After money had changed hand, however, construction was delayed because nearby residents opposed the project. The case was brought to court, but was not resolved for seven years until the Japanese began occupying Taiwan in 1896. The hospital took three years to build, and was named Sin-lâu (新樓) literally, New building, because it was new then. The hospital was equipped with examining room, treatment room, pharmacy and operating room. The operating room was on the second floor, and Taiwan’s first elevator was installed there, to transport patients up and down. This elevator is now on exhibit Presbyterian museum at Tióng- êng High School(長榮中學).
In 1901, James Maxwell’s younger son, Dr. James Maxwell, Jr. came to Taiwan with his nurse wife and succeeded to the hospital directorship. He and his wife emphasized the nurturing and training of local medical facilities and treatments at the hospital, such as adding steam sterilization and X-ray, and the treatment of opium addiction, venereal disease and leprosy. The hospital was now a fully equipped hospital.
In 1911 G. Gushue-Taylor(戴仁壽醫生) took over as Superintendent. His emphasis was on nursing and health maintenance. In October 1917, he published The Nursing Textbook of Internal Medicine and Surgery, the first medical textbook written in Romanized Taiwanese.
In 1923 James Maxwell, Jr., was appointed the Executive Secretary of the China Medical Society in Shanghai and Dr. Percival Cheal(周惠憐醫生) took over as Superintendent of Sin-lâu (新樓)Hospital. Cheal expanded and renovated the hospital, setting up a leprosy clinic, opium rehabilitation center and tuberculosis ward - all of which were the first of their kind in Taiwan. He also added a children’s ward. A number of local doctors joined the hospital at this time, such as Lîm
Huī-jîn(林惠人醫生) and Chih Oán-seng (石遠生醫生).
The hospital was at its peak between 1900 to 1930, when it had the best equipment, facilities and doctors of any hospital in Taiwan. The earliest use of X-ray started in Sin-lâu (新樓), and also the treatment of tuberculosis, leprosy, and children’s diseases. It had the first children’s ward and the first elevator also. Its directors during this time, James Maxwell, Jr. and Percival Cheal(周惠憐醫生) had been army doctors in the European wars and had excellent surgical skills, which helped Sin-lâu (新樓)gain its fame.
From October 1931, Dr. John Little (李約翰醫生) was Superintendent. His wife also a doctor. The number of patients increased dramatically at this time, and Dr. Little reorganized the Southern Christian Medical Association to promote cooperation between the hospital and the local community to help the work of Medical mission.

Sin-lâu Hospital localization(新樓醫院本土化)
On December 30, 1935, the Southern Synod took over the management of the hospital. An opening service was held on January 11, 1936. Dr. Iûn Hûn-liông (楊雲龍醫生) was the Superintendent and Gân Chhun-hong(顏春芳), the Administrator. During this time, the hospital established a school for midwives, lasting from September, 1936 to 1944.
In 1942, after Dr. Iûn Hûn-liông (楊雲龍院長) resigned, Dr. Gân Chín-seng (顏振聲醫生) succeeded him. He had studied under Dr. W. Murray Cairns(金醫生) and Dr. David Landsborough (蘭大衛醫生) who were doctors at Changhua Christian Hospital(彰化基督教醫院) in central Taiwan, and had his own clinic, called Aì-
io̍k-tông (愛育堂). He was an elder at the Thài-pêng-kéng Church(太平境長老教會). Dr. Gân Chín-seng (顏振聲醫生) wrote a book on the southern church’s medical evangelism, the first book written in Romanized Taiwanese to systematically discuss Taiwan’s medical history. It contains 51 pages.
In 1944, the Japanese government took over Sin-lâu /新樓Hospital for its wartime uses, and appointed Bansho Tetsuo(番匠鐵雄), principal of Tióng- êng Girls’ School(長榮女中), as the Superintendent. The hospital was return to the Southern Synod in October, 1945.
After 1945 when the Japanese left Taiwan, due to the effects of the war the English Presbyterian Church was unable to continue supporting the local mission work and the hospital close for several years.
But in 1949, through the efforts of the Tainan Presbytery, Mr. L. Singleton (沈毅敦先生) and Miss Gretta Gauld (吳阿玉姑娘) of the Overseas Mission Society, the Sin-lâu (新樓)Clinic was reopened. Dr. Si Bûn-chú (施文子醫生), a female doctor, was hired as the first clinic director after the war, in 1950 and in 1956 Dr. Lîm
Gio̍k-lîn(林玉麟醫生) succeeded as director.
In 1961, the Tainan Christian Medical Team formally took over the Sin-lâu (新樓)Clinic, with Dr. Ông
Siū-lo̍k(王受祿博士) as chairperson, and Rev. Lâu suī-jîn(劉瑞仁牧師) became part-time director, for thirteen years. During this time, everyone who worked at this clinic volunteered their time, including the doctors, pharmacists and van drivers. Their sacrifices helped the hospital in a very difficult period.
After Rev. Lâu
suī-jîn (劉瑞仁牧師), Rev. Î Khek-hiân(余克賢牧師) became the clinic director in 1975.

Nec tamen consumebatur__Sin-lâu rebuild to modern Hospital
In 1983, many lay members and ministers in the Tainan Presbytery, moved by the work and sacrifices of the early missionaries at Sin-lâu (新樓)and a sense of carrying out the legacy of medical mission at the old Sin-lâu (新樓), decided to totally rebuild the hospital into a large modern hospital. Many people donated toward this purpose, including some overseas Christians, such as Dr. Garvin Russell (盧嘉敏醫生) and Dr. Elizabeth Christie (以利沙白女醫生), who both offered medical service in lowland aborigine communities and died in Taiwan and were buried in Tainan Christian cemetery.
After the modernization of the hospital, Dr.
Tēnn Liông-sêng(鄭良誠醫生) was chosen as first Superintendent. His installation service took place on September 30, 1985. Two months later 2,500 people attended a thanksgiving service for the hospital.
The first stage of the hospital’s modernization expanded the hospital into a 150-bed institution. The second stage of the hospital’s expansion also added another 150 beds. Together with these expansions and the facilities that had been added between 1975 and 1988, the reputation of the hospital had began to build up.
In 1994 a clinic was established at An-lâm(安南)where there was shortage of medical service. Residents there numbered 100,000 but there was not a single hospital for them. The An-lâm Clinic included family medicine, dental, pediatrics, ob/gyn and ear, nose and throat departments and was overseen by Dr.
Tēnn Liông-sin(鄭良信醫生). Future expansions are planned for An-lâm (安南) Clinic, and some land nearby has been acquired.
In January 1997 the Môa-
tāu(麻豆) Branch Hospital opened. The hospital serves rural residents in Chan-Bûn(曾文) and Pak-mn̂g(北門) areas and has facilities comparable to the main hospital. Dr. Si Êng-bōo• (施榮茂醫生) was installed as the first Superintendent on March 1, 1997.
In February 1998 construction began on a new building south of the main hospital in Tainan. And Sin-Lau Hospital became a regional teaching hospital. Continuous upgrading of medical capability and quality requires that Sin Lau spare neither expense nor effort in teaching and research. Our in-service training curriculum includes medical specialties, medical quality, medical safety and medical ethics.
Medical-evangelism remains a core value at Sin-lâu. To Hospital Chaplain's Department cares for the faith and life of patients and employees. Care of out-patient visitors and in-patient residents aims to soothe body, mind and soul, lifting clouds of doubt and fear so that the light of hope might shine on people in need. Good relations with our neighbors and community health care have always been among our tasks, but preventive health care is a main emphasis as we look to the future.
Sin-lâu Hospital looks to become the most important community hospital in the Southern Taiwan region, and by doing so to fulfill the medical-evangelistic aim to be close to where there are people in need of medical service while protecting their health of its community. By these efforts, Sin-lâu Hospital will continue to serve as the guardian of community health and fulfill its mission in the spirit of our founder, Dr. James L. Maxwell.


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Main Hospital:No.57, Sec. 1, Dongmen Rd., Tainan City 701002 , Taiwan Tel:886-6-2748316
Branch Hospital:No. 207, Sec. 1, Majia Rd., Madou Dist., Tainan City 721010 , Taiwan Tel:886-6-5702228
Update:2009-08-10   Visitor:12395250