Founded in 1982 as a Christian mission hospital, Patan Hospital has evolved into an independent secular hospital with its own Board of Directors. It maintains the values of its founders, providing quality compassionate care to all who come, regardless of religious affiliation or ability to pay.
Since 1997 the number of beds has increased from 138 to 450 and there now are 17 departments, including a 24-hour emergency room, an intensive care unit (ICU), orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, and a private ward that helps pay for charity patients.
Until Friends of Patan Hospital (FOPH) was formed in 2002, there was no way that Americans could make tax-deductible contributions directly to Patan Hospital.
However, as people learned about the remarkable work of the hospital, Patan was aided by contributions raised by a few churches. For example, under the leadership of Marcellus United Methodist Church, a group of churches in the Syracuse, New York area raised $58,000 to buy a new ultrasound scanner and send a specialist to Patan Hospital to train staff on its use. The new scanner, delivered in February 2000, has allowed the hospital to more than double the use of this critical diagnostic tool.
An even larger amount was given by Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. A Centennial Capital Fund drive earmarked $175,000 for half the cost of a 60-bed pediatric unit. The remaining $175,000 needed for the unit was donated by a Nepali businessman as a matching gift. The new hospital wing was dedicated in April 2001.
As a result of Montview's gift to Patan Hospital, Dr. Mark Zimmerman visited Denver in June, 2000; later that year a number of Montview members visited the hospital as part of a work trip to Nepal which included building a children's playground at Patan Hospital. Then, in September, 2001, Dr. Zimmerman contacted some of the people who were involved in these visits and requested assistance in forming a tax-exempt organization, to be called Friends of Patan Hospital (FOPH), which would raise funds in the United States for the hospital. The result was that two members of Montview took leadership roles in launching FOPH.
Parts of Dr. Zimmerman's September, 2001 letter follow:
We at Patan Hospital are here for several reasons:
* To serve all who come to us, regardless of their ability to pay.
* To do that by providing compassionate, effective health care.
* To train Nepalese professionals, so as to replicate our service in other places.
* To build up the hospital'capacity for sustainability.
Patan Hospital is nearly 20 years old. During the course of its life, several trends have become apparent to us. First is that, although the poor never diminish in number, those who can pay seem to have increased. Second, there are more and more Nepalese who are capable health professionals, but we still have not seen a significant cadre of Nepalese who are willing to take on the sacrifice of running a charity hospital.
Third despite negative press about anti-Christian sentiments in Nepal, in general our mission base is highly respected, both among the people and in government. Fourth, we are still a good way from realizing our dream of sustainability; capital items, charity bills, and the salaries of a nucleus of expatriates must must come from abroad. Fifth, in spite of the many emerging opportunities, funding for mission hospitals that comes through conventional channels has steadily grown significantly less. This year the United Mission to Nepal has informed its hospitals that, for the first time ever, it is projecting that it will not have the funds to cover all of our charity subsidy.
So, Nepal has a deep need for compassionate health care, the local resources to provide this care are expanding, but overseas funding through tried-and-true routes seems to be drying up. How to respond to this situation? Fortunately, there are still group of people -like yourselves and like the volunteers who work here- who believe that supporting this work is likely to yield a rich harvest. Indeed, it is hard to find an investment where one's dollar will go further towards helping others. A child with severe pneumonia may be admitted and receive full treatment for a total of $20, everything included.