“When we visited RMH four to five years ago for the first time, it felt like there was a strong disconnection between the mission of the Church of the Nazarene and the hospital.
What had happened is what happens to a lot of institutions, namely mission drift. The hospital was at a real low. When we were there last January, the atmosphere was completely different. It felt a bit like Lazarus who had come out of the grave. Yes, there are still a lot of grave clothes that need to be removed, but there seems to be a new vitality, which reflects the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We were deeply impressed,” said Rev. Mrs. Annemarie Snijders, missional assistant to the Eurasia Region director.
On 20th January 2019, the ministry of Reynolds Memorial Hospital and Affiliated Clinics (RMH & AC) in Washim, India, was re-launched with its original mission in partnership with Christian Medical College, Vellore (CMC) and Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA). This partnership was announced in a specially called meeting at the local Nazarene church in Washim.
“Scripture tells us that a threefold cord will not be broken,” said Eurasia Region Director Rev. Arthur Snijders. “We can’t do Kingdom work all by ourselves,
God gives us others at the right time. RMH & NNTC have entered a rather special partnership with EHA and CMC-Vellore. It is a Christian healthcare partnership focused on the mission. This is a celebration of joining hands in Christ’s Name.”
Following the meeting, Church of the Nazarene General Superintendent Rev. Dr. Duarte spoke a rededication prayer for RMH and Arthur Snijders laid the foundation stone for the New Operation Theatre in memory of Dr. Orpha Speicher.
For 81 of the 121 years of the history of the Church of the Nazarene in India, RMH & AC’s service and impact have been multifaceted. Dr. Orpha Speicher came to India in 1936 at the age of 29. She studied languages of India for two years and then, realizing the need for medical health care, established a hospital in Washim, Maharashtra, in 1938.
The hospital’s first location was in an old school building, and it was named Reynolds Memorial Hospital after General Superintendent Rev. Dr. Hiram F. Reynolds. RMH & AC offered medical services to people of all ages, regardless of caste and creed, serving with the love and compassion of Christ. Health needs varied from small hurts to serious illnesses and critical deliveries, and the hospital gained a reputation for its maternity care.
The love of God was so evident and powerful that people from great distances came to RMH for treatment. Realizing the needs of these distant patients, RMH extended their services through clinics to various places like Pusad, Mehekar, Chikhli, Buldana, Dhad, Mangrulpir, and Risod. RMH & AC also got involved in several community programs, providing affordable health care in the region and especially investing in preventive healthcare education in the villages. This had a serious impact on Christian witness in these areas.
“The relaunch of Reynolds Memorial Hospital is a special event bringing back memories spanning five generations from the very beginning of this medical ministry in the Washim area through RMH,” said Rev. Sunil Dandge, India Field Strategy Coordinator. “It was for the newly converted believers from many village families from around Akola and Buldhana districts. As someone from such a family, I am personally indebted to the medical care I received when I was close to death; I was revived with prayers and the loving care of the doctors and nurses of RMH.”
Sister Jean Darling started a course of Practical Nursing with 10 young women in 1946. The nursing school building was built in 1950. In 1953, the school became a registered Nazarene Nurses Training School.
“The relaunch of Reynolds Memorial Hospital is a special event bringing back memories spanning five generations from the very beginning of this medical ministry in the Washim area through RMH,” Dandge said.
One of the goals is to prepare students for the future with an emphasis on learning fundamental nursing concepts and skills to equip students to serve the community and the nation. Today the nursing school has become a college that is approved and recognized by the Indian Nursing Council and is affiliated with universities and medical associations across the country. The college offers a Basic B.Sc. in Nursing, General Nursing & Midwifery (GNM) and RANM, and is also planning to provide education in the paramedics. A beautiful residential facility is provided to students along with a cafeteria. At present the college has 240 students.
A new chapter in RMH’s history was opened when the hospital and the Church realized that the way forward lay in forming partnerships with experienced medical Christian specialists in the field. After a lengthy process, taking almost four years and involving numerous visits and investigations by CMC and EHA personnel, this partnership has become a reality under the leadership of Arthur Snijders, and RMH was relaunched. This transition could not have happened without the help of Dr. Franklin Cook (formal Regional Director) and George Williamson, an M+Power missionary from Scotland.
Mr. Robin, who took over the job of Executive Director of RMH several months ago, explained their vision: “If our effort is only to see a hospital and educational institution established, then we have failed Christ and the Church. NNTC is placed in a region where degrees are sold for few rupees. We hope and pray that this Christian partnership will be a new ray of hope for Christian care and education, where the poor can seek refuge without hesitation. Pray for us, that we, the family of RMH, will be obedient to His will as we endeavor on this journey.”
Rev. Sunil Dandge also welcomed the partnership: “I believe this re-launch is the beginning of a new era of quality and excellence with the best possible partners from the best medical professionals, and organizations that have worked with struggling mission hospitals in Central and North India. This beginning is a dream of life fulfilled.”
Today RMH is a 100-bed hospital with 92 staff, including 27 staff in the Nursing College. RMH aims to start its out-patient department (OPD) and medical ward facilities by April 2019, and there are several committed and mission-minded doctors that are coming forward to revive RMH. RMH will also have opportunities for Work & Witness teams in the future, especially in the areas of healthcare, community transformation projects, water management, skills training and employment generation.
As the hospital invests into fulfilling this mission, it needs our prayers for a committed medical team including specialist doctors and for a developmental leadership team for the hospital and nursing college, as well as prayers for the community in and around Washim.
This article was written by Rev. Rajiv Yangad and previously published in Where Worlds Meet April 2019 edition.