A BRIEF HISTORY - UMRI CHRISTIAN HOSPITAL
Umri, off the highway to Nagpur, is a small village in the Yavatmal District of Maharashtra. It is on route to Wani or Pandharkawda till 1881 this village and the surrounding tribal villages had no access to medical treatment, education or motorized transportation. With the arrival of the Free Methodist Church in 1881, life was transformed for the poor, illiterate and backward people of this area from the point of view of their health and getting an opportunity to hear the Gospel.The drought and subsequent famine of 1894 in India resulted in the rampant spread of diseases. Many lives were lost due to lack of medical facilities. At the same time, a young woman, Miss Sarah Ferries received a vision to serve in India and responded to the call. On 21 Dec 1894 she landed in India and came to Yavatmal District. Very soon she became the “Florence Nightingale” of Yavatmal. The General Missionary Board recognized her services and it sent two more ladies to help her. In 1902, Miss Mary Chynoweth and in 1914 Miss Lorena Marston came to India and thus began the medical Ministry in Umri village. In 1919, the Missionary Board decided to concentrate on the Umri area for medical Ministries. At that time there was neither any Government nor private hospital in Umri village or in the surrounding area of 70 Km. Soon Rev. Casberg arrived and he had a burden to construct a building for the hospital. In 1923 sustained only by prayer and hard work, he succeeded in constructing a building with six rooms: an Examination room, a Compounder’s room, a small Operation Theatre, a Drug store, a Dressing room and an Office. That year Rev. Casberg was able to treat many patients. In 1924 Miss Phelps and Miss Menter accepted the responsibility of the hospital, and kept the service going with meager financial support as they could collect only minimum charges from the poor patients. In 1938, Dr. Stevenson, an Eye Specialist and Dr. Higgins served in Umri for two weeks during the tenure of Dr. Lois. In 1941, Dr. Melvin and his wife came to Umri. His parents were involved in the Evangelistic Ministry and building work of the hospital. But in 1942 _broke out and interrupted the hospital work forcing Dr.Melvin to go back. In the mean while Dr. Lao, a Burmese doctor and Dr. Ahma, a Burmese lady doctor, were appointed. But this arrangement did not work and the hospital was on the verge of closing down. It was a difficult time but the local member Mr. P.A. Bidari, a Compounder and his wife Mrs. Bidari, a trained Nurse together conducted a Dispensary in the hospital for about seven years. Prayers of many including those of Rev. E.S. Root were earnestly made for the situation to improve. Finally the Missionary Board decided not to discontinue the hospital work. There was a new hope for the hospital.
Vision Continued: (1950- 1965):
This was a beginning of a new chapter in the history of Umri Mission Hospital. In 1950 Dr. Paul W Yardy was appointed to work at UMH. He accepted the position to serve in India and landed in India with his wife Mrs. Jessie Yardy and their four children in May 1950. After arriving in Umri, they realized the need to learn Marathi in order to communicate with the locals. They had to go through a very hard time to achieve this. They went to Mahabaleshwar to learn the language where they went through a very hard time; living in a very simple house with no electricity and no running water. They also lived in constant fear of snakes and scorpions. Miss Helen Rose R.N. and Miss. Mary Luffy R.N. also arrived and joined the Yardy’s for language classes. After a year of study, Dr. Yardy arrived at Umri to re-open the hospital. There was no formal opening ceremony or celebration. He brought with him medicines and some new equipment for the hospital and with this he started his medical Ministry. Since there were few workers, he himself oftentimes examined the patients, compounded and maintained Medical Records. In July 1951, Mrs. Timothy was called to serve as a nurse and her husband, who was a retired military man, helped in the office. By this time Miss Helen Rose and Miss. Lufy had arrived at Umri and continued their services in the hospital. Simultaneously Mr. Sudhakar Shejao joined along with Mrs. Gracebai David to help Dr. Yardy in the wards. Thus the work was growing. Patients increased in number and the need for a lady doctor was felt. Dr. (Miss) P. Aquilla came forward and rendered her services for the female patients. Mrs. Suprabha Torde, a trained nurse, also joined the hospital. With the help of these trained and untrained staff, the work was carried on. During this period the hospital was equipped with an X- ray machine, the Dr. Lois Kent laboratory was established along with the Rose Memorial Hall and a Dharamshala for patients. Mr. Benson arranged water supply.
A Period of Uncertainty:
The ups-and-downs of the following years saw many arrivals and departures with no continuity or vision for the future. It was only the grace of God that kept the hospital from closing down. In 19… Dr. Isaac Jebaraj, an Orthopedic Surgeon, and his wife, Dr. Prasanna, a Psychiatrist, from CMC Vellore arrived at UCH. They gave the hospital new direction, focusing on free medical camps, performing major surgeries and introducing a revolutionary short term TB treatment for the poor and needy tribals. Dr. Issac Newton took over the hospital and continued to work till his unexpected passing away in February 1997. This sudden vacuum created at the hospital seemed to spell doom for UCH. During the next 6 months of darkness and despair the remaining staff feared the end of the institution. But God had different plans. His compassionate eye of care for Umri brought a young, committed and dedicated doctor couple in the form of Dr. Samuel Jeevagan, M.S., and his wife, Dr. Mrs. Elizabeth David, M.D. to Umri in 04.07 1997.
Period of Renewal: (1997 – July 2002)
Under the leadership of Dr. Samuel Jeevagn & Dr. Mrs. Elizabeth David hospital flourished like anything, medical and social care reached to the thousands of poor and needy people. Surrounding community and tribal people got a hope for their medical care. They work hard day and night without even having junior doctors at times. It was not only to develop the medical care but to collect other dedicated Staff was a major challenge for them. Giving a better look to the campus and old hospital building and staff quarter’s renovation was among the major challenges. In spite of not having qualified and dedicated staff God helped to start 3 units without any financial support or donation (Helen Rose School of nursing, Dr. Yardy English medium school, home for the children of tribal kolami people). Slowly institution took the new shape and work of institution grown Mr. Sathisam joined as Administrator to take care of administrative work of the hospital. During the progressive phase many other staff also joined their hand for the development of the hospital. Along with the other development equally focus was given to the spreading of Gospel by conducting truth seekers meetings, arranging medical campus in tribal villages. When we look back of those precious five years, with boldly we can say it was golden period of Umri hospital and the continuous faithfulness of almighty God. Now presently whatever development we see and cherish it is the hard work of these missionary, visionary couple and blessing of God for Umri. If I recollect the correct word , Before leaving Umri Dr. Samuel Jeevgan promised to the village people that he will come back again …………………… and he did !!!!! God is the controller of our lives he is best who knows where he wants to use us , sadly in year 2002 Dr. Samuel Jeevagn left the Umri and the good progressive work of hospital could not progress further as there was no doctor who will work for longer period . Few other doctors joined and worked (Dr. Alexander Daniel, Dr. Panner Selvam and his wife Dr. Mrs. Hepsiba Selvam) for short duration and left nobody was there to carry the vision forward. All the development of hospital stopped. As mission and board could not find the doctors, again Dr. Pratap & Dr. Mrs. Pratap, Dr. Jennifer sustained the hospital and rendered their service to the hospital for almost seven years. As the couple was old they could not retained and continue the development work. But during this period Butterfield foundation donated money for the new building of general ward, labour room, operation theatre. But Once again it was a difficult time for the hospital to survive and many thought it will close down. There was uncertainty how long it will go, when hospital will get good visionary doctors??
God has the perfect time to provide answers to our prayers and to use His people for His glory. Once again at the right time God brought Dr. Samuel Jeevagan & Dr. Mrs. Elizabeth Jeevagan back to Umri in 2012. Development that has taken place since then is beyond imagination. Challenges were there to combine all 3 units (UCH, Helen Rose School of Nursing and Yardy English Secondary School together to create a transparent administrative system and appropriate regulation of finance within the institution. The Physiotherapy Department, Dental Department and Counseling Centre are just some of the improvements that UCH has seen since then. Beyond any doubt what-so-ever, all glory belongs to the Lord our God because it is he who blesses the work of people who love and honour Him; working willingly and joyfully under his eternal plan.