Monday, May 19, 2008



History of Bethesda Hospital:

American Missionaries as a roadside clinic started Bethesa Hospital in the year 1921. It gradually developed in to a 200 bedded secondary care multi-specialty charitable Mission hospital; providing secondary level health care to majority of poor and middle class society in and around Ambur without discrimination of caste, creed and religion.

Bethesda Hospital is situated in Ambur town, with a population of more than one lakh and is surrounded by approximately 60 villages and hamlets. The hospital with a campus area of 35 acres serves the health need of very large segment of the rural populations. Patients come from the nearby larger towns such as Vaniyambadi, Pernambut, Gudiyattam, Jolarpet, Nattrampalli and Tirupattur but socially also from Districts like Salem, Dharmapuri and Kuppam. Also we serve through our community Health Programmes at Nayakkaneri and Kattukollai – hill stations.

Background of the Institution:

Bethesda is a Hebrew word meaning “House of Mercy”. In Jewish belief it was the name given to a pool, that when stirred by an angel produced healing to those who first entered it thereafter. Miss. Angela Rehwinkle an American missionary nurse and Dr. Dodelein, who founded the hospital initially as a 16 bedded hospital, chose the name Bethesda to signify the healing that would take place here. During the early year, Miss. Angela Rehwinkle managed the hospital single handedly. Subsequently dedicated doctors such as Mr. J.C. Williams, Mr. Kalyan, Mr. Eapen Benjamin and Mr. Nallathambi joined the institution. In 1950 Dr. W.F. Bulle a dynamic and surgeon, through his devoted services enlisted the support of the Wheat Ridge Foundation to sponsor a tuberculosis control project within the municipal limits of Ambur. The Ambur municipality, pleased with the hospital’s service rendered to its community, donated one lakh rupees towards a tuberculosis project.

A leprosy programme was started in the outskirts of Ambur catering y to an area up to Pallikonda. This with started with 4 paramedical workers and financial support from the German Leprosy Relief Association (GLRA) with its head quarters in Chennai.

After years of running, Dr. A.S. Fenn, MS, FACA, FRCA, a renowned surgeon, together with a dedicated team of workers among who was Dr. Malati Jadhav, an eminent pediatrician, transformed the traditional mission hospital into multispeciality Health Care Center offering quality services and modern amenities. It soon became a model for various other mission hospitals.

After the demise of Dr. A.S. Fenn, Dr. J.K. Joel Nesaraj, Md, DTCD (UK) having been instrumental in the revival of the hospital and with an experience spanning several decades was appointed as Director. Since then, the hospital has been marching towards the development in aspects considerably till date.

Bethesda Hospital is known for conducting many Community Health Programmes that help the poor and many of them are Government supported or Sponsored Programmes.

They are such as : -

· Family Planning
· Infant Care Programme
· Leprosy Control Programme
· Tuberculosis Control Programme
· Urban Community Hewalth Programmes
· Rural Community Health Programmes
· Trauma Care
· CeMONC Centres
· Mortuary Service
· Blood bank
· Integrated Child Care Project (ICCP)
· The Community Care Project
· The Care and Treatment programme of APAC
· Integrated Counseling and Testing Center (ICTC)
· Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission

Out of the above, Leprosy Control Programme and Tuberculosis Control Programme were mainly taken care by the Bethesda Hospital.

Leprosy Control Programme

Leprosy Control Programme was a government Programme. The Government of Tamil Nadu also allotted the geographical area to Bethesda Hospital. So Bethesda Hospital took care of all the leprosy cases from Vellore to Alangayam. The Leprosy Control Programme was functioning under the Tamil Nadu State Leprosy Officer. Dr. Gangadhar who was appointed as Chief and he was assisted by two non-medical supervisors (one was from Bethesda Hospital, Ambur and one was deputed from Tamil Nadu Government) and five Para Medical Workers from Bethesda Hospital. The LCP team covered all the areas viz., Ambur, Alangayam, Odukathur and also from Ambur to Pallikonda which was started in 1973.

Cases with deformity were referred to the hand surgery to the Schefflin Research Hospital at Karigiri, when Dr. Paul Brand, M.S. renowned expert was doing hand surgeries on those days. The prevalence and incredible of Leprosy in North Arcot has come down remarkably through the years for which the construction of the Leprosy Control Team of Bethesda was substantial. The project was partly supported, guided and supervised by the State Leprosy Officer. The German Leprosy Relief Sassdociation (GLRA) gave the financial support. There was in-patients facility for treating Leprosy patients in Bethesda Hospital then.

Tuberculosis control programme:

Tuberculosis Control Programme was started in 1960 and it was first in New town, this covered Vaniyambadi with an instrument – fluroscent microscope and the entire Ambur. In Ambur, the team of TCP conducted house to house survey of the TB patients. In that periods, Mass Miniature Radiography was introduced in continuation of test for Culture and Sensitivity for sputum. In introduction of the above two, Bethesda Hospital, Ambur was the first one in he Madras State (Tamil Nadu State).

Bethesda Hospital was chosen as one of the Microscopic Center of Revised National Tuberculosis Control programme. It was initially started by DR. Wolfgang Frederick Bulley, MD (Austria), Medical Superintendent, Bethesda Hospital in 1950. Those days Tuberculosis was rampant in Madras State (Tamil Nadu State). To treat all the affected people he installed a separate new TB ward and started to treat the patients as an in-patient. There were some auto rickshaws and two Willy jeeps were in use to bring the patients to the hospital regularly and they were treated with free diet. They were given free medicines - the Government of Tamil Nadu supplied drugs free of cost for these affected patients. Those patients who were infected with serious TB and who were on requirement of surgical treatment were referred to the Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore for further necessary management and admitted in thoracic unit for further treatment at free of cost. It was continued till 1960.

In 1961 Dr.Pappan Benjamin and Dr. Pusshell undertook TCP and the programme which was continued completely with the financial help of Wheat Ridge foundation, U.S.A. In 1971 when Dr. Benjamin and Dr. Pushell were left, and Dr. Balasundaram Manoharan, M.B.N.S., took charge of the programme till 1982.

In TCP, wheat, milk powder, egg powder, cheese and all necessary edible foods were supplied to the patients free of cost to improve their health and speedy recovery.

With the increasing number of HIV infected, tuberculosis is a common threat.

Bethesda hospital works closely with the government by supplying free anti-tuberculosis therapy (DOTS – Directly Observed Treatment Short term).

Since the RNTCP (Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme) with DOTS therapy started in 2003, upwards of a hundred patients were successfully treated within the first year itself sand continuously considerable number of patients is being treated every year.

Bethesda nursing school;

The School of Nursing was started in 1997 with an intake of 20 students a year. These students are actively involving in Community Health Programmes in the surroundings rural villages and urban slums. The Vinnamangalam Village is currently adopted by the hospital for community care. Regular visits, ante-natal and post natal care to the mothers, referral services, counseling, periodical medical camps, awareness camps, immunization camps, and training of volunteers in the community are taken care by the students under the supervision of the well qualified and experienced instructors and doctors. Nearly, 160 students have successfully completed their Diploma course in Nursing and they got employment in different places in country and abroad.

Multi-specialty hospital:

· Medicine
· Pediatrics
· Surgery
· Obstetrics & Gynecology
· Orthopedic Surgery
· Pediatric Surgery
· Neuro surgery
· Anesthesia
· Otolaryngology
· Ophthalmology
· Radiology
· Dentistry
· Physiotherapy
· Dietary
· Emergency services
· Laboratory services-Biochemistry, Microbiology and Clinical Pathology
· Pharmacy
· Medical Records
· Dialysis Unit
· HIV/AIDS Care and Support Programmes
· Trauma Care Unit
· Mortuary Mobile Van Service


· Diploma in Nursing started in 1997

· Bachelor’s degree in Hospital Information Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology and Radiography started in 2003 affiliated to Distance Education Programme under Manipal University.


Bethesda hospital right from its inception takes a bigger role by its dedicated service in providing the health care to the people not only of Ambur town and also its surrounding villages and towns, of course from neighboring Districts too. Indeed, Bethesda has been functioning as a carrier to take the Government health programmes to the rural, tribal and urban slum areas of the District and implements them successfully. The people have always looked towards to this hospital for quality compassionate health care since the last 80 years. Hospital too, is committed to develop its service to meet the growing need of the people.


selwyn's said...

I'm Dr. Selwyn, native of ambur. I really appreciate this work on BETHESDA HOSPITAL, one of the pioneering institutions in Ambur. My dad was a Reverend of Ambur Synod,and its nice to know about our Instituion. It would added spice to the presentation, if there would be pictures of the pioneering persons that you have mentioned here. Also it would be nice to see the picture of the Hospital too and some of the facilities that was mentioned here. I really appreciate this commendable work of the person who has contributed so much of time in constructing this. MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

mercy said...

because of this information i got back my life..thank you so much.god bless you.

mercy said...

bethesda you are not only the house of mercy.i wish u b the light house of the world.

LMVogel said...

I'm a Lutheran pastor from the United States. I will have the privilege of visiting Bethesda Hospital next month. Thank you for this helpful background information. God bless you all!

Sathishbabu said...

Dedicated to His glory, the page of our Bethesda Hospital @ The Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia!


Govindasamy said...
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