Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital
A Hospital of Stories
A group of impressionist artists in the 19th Century, from Boudin, Monet, to Renoir, Cézanne, and Degas, had a profound impact on contemporary art as we know. They discarded traditional theories and techniques, walked out of the glamorous interior and into natural sceneries and lightings, seize a moment in time transformed it into eternity.
In a similar fashion, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, founded when Yunnan-Jiayi area was devoid of medical resources, melt away the indifference between medical professionals and patients, break through the shackles of stereotypical concepts of health. For the next decade, the hospital operated with compassion and wisdom as its axes, creating heart-warming moments in the dimensions of time, space, and people; through the spotlight of genuineness, lighting up the pure nature of a humanistic respect for life.
Great Love as Forest
In the early years, the scarcity of medical resources in Yunnan-Jiayi region forced patients with major illness or in critical conditions to be transferred to major hospitals north or south. Very often families of these patients traveled from afar for a visit, only to encounter automobile accidents on the way.
Master Cheng Yen, having traveled to the Yunnan Jiayi area, had a first hand observation of the pain and suffering of the local residents resulted from scarcity of medical resources. Hence, on September 24, 1990, Master disclosed publicly for the first time the long term goal of Tzu Chi Medical Mission: building Tzu Chi hospitals across the remote regions of Taiwan, providing timely service to people who cannot afford the high medical cost. Soon after, on October 18, Master complied with the pleading of the locals in Yunnan-Jiayi area, to survey Dalin as a potential site for a hospital.
Sister Lin Shu-Ching, who were in her twenties, relentlessly convinced the Tzu Chi Foundation to set up a chapter in Dalin, so that the people of Yunnan Jiayi area could have the opportunity to listen to Master’s teachings. With the support and consent from her mother- and father-in-law, she donated the family land, together with the land she bought with loans, to the foundation. “We will build more than just a chapter here, we will build a hospital as well,” Master decided.
However, Dalin Township was formed mostly by small pieces of private land, scattered, and majority owned by Taiwan Sugar Corporation. With absolutely no precedent or legal support, the acquisition of land proved to be difficult. Vice CEO Lin Pi-Yu of Tzu Chi Foundation wrote about the hardship during the 5th anniversary of the Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, “…from finding a location, acquiring land, to construction, we were faced with obstacles every step of the way. After countless meetings and five years of negotiations, we finally got the Administrative Yuan to amend the law to legally rent land from Taiwan Sugar Corporation…” Finally, on Oct. 13, 1996, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital held its groundbreaking ceremony.
A old couple, Hsieh Hsing-Yuan and Hsieh Lin-Hua, who were living in Dabi, Yunlin County, rode a motorcycle, under the scorching sun, all the way to the hospital that was under construction. In fact, they had took several trips prior to this one. When they heard about the news that Tzu Chi was going to build a hospital, the couple, with a combined age exceeding 160 and were making a living by selling homegrown green onions, decided to donate their life savings to the hospital to purchase shuttle buses, freeing the locals the trouble of finding transport to and from the to-be-built hospital.
The eagerly awaited Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, led by Supt. Lin Chin-Lon, held its inauguration on August 13, 2000, the first Tzu Chi medical location in western Taiwan.
This major hospital, built in Dalin, Jiayi, a countryside unheard of to most people, is the fruition of the selfless contributions from countless Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide. In a blink of an eye, the hospital began to receive positive comments like “a hospital of love” or “feel just like home”. Prior to the 10th anniversary, Dr. Chien Sou-Hsin assumed the position of superintendent. Acting as the host of “All About Health” for over ten years, more than 2,000 episodes, Dr. Chien is well-received for translating harsh medical concepts and jargons into easy-to-digest knowledge for the general public.
Patient’s Last Hope
Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital is the last hope for many patients. When Hsieh Liang-Chi was sent to the emergency room at the end of October, 2001, he was literally at his last breath. Tormented by ankylosing spondylitis for over 30 years, he lay helplessly as he was transported into the emergency room with was hunched, head down to the chest, and tongue exposed.
Experienced Orthopedist Chien Jui-Teng was unsettled by what he was seeing. There must be a reason why Hsieh Liang-Chi deteriorated to the state he was then, and the only way to solve that puzzle was to save this man’s life. With the success of skull traction, Hsieh could finally speak again. “Dr. Chien, can you help my lumbar spine as well?” he pleaded.
In April, 2009, Hsieh held his first painting exhibition in the hospital, filled with artworks depicting the solemn Jing-Si Hall, adorable farm houses, and various characters he encountered. All the earnings from the artwork sold were donated. When Dr. Chien sat down as a model for Hsieh’s sketch, the role of doctor and patient seemed to have reversed. Never give up hope, for life is filled with surprises.
Life is fragile. Yet the determination and persistence of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital in humanistic medical service saved countless lives from the brink of death.
Innovative Surgery Reputable Worldwide
The medical team of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital had built a solid reputation in Taiwan and overseas. Guan Shi-Cheng (Chinese transliteration) from Vietnam suffered multiple second to third degree burns in a fire when he was 4 years old. His limbs, deformed and contracted from the fire, leaving him immobile and required the assistance of his family. With the repeated infections in the wounds of his lower limb, Guan was faced with the possibility of amputation. Jayvo from the Philippines, suffered from severe cleft lip, thalassemia, and life-threatening hydrocephalus, which all resulted in abnormal growth of the cranium and brain. Those who saw him at birth, none thought the boy could survive.
Through the introduction of Tzu Chi volunteers, these children had the chance of flying to Taiwan, the hope to start a new life. Under the attentive care and treatment of the medical team led by Supt. Chien Sou-Hsin, Guan is now capable of walking on his own, while Jayvo can happily play with his mother.
On December 13, 2008, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital completed its first case of living-donor liver transplantation after a 12-hour marathon surgery, fulfilling its promise to medicine, and completed the love from children to parent.
Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital is currently the only regional teaching hospital that can perform living-donor liver transplantation, and its cancer center received grade A certification for its comprehensive care in cancer treatments. The integration of innovation, grassroots, and Tzu Chi is the driving force of the hospital.
Looking After Communities Near and Far
Prior to its inauguration, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital had already initiated its community health development project in Dalin Township, revitalizing the town with new energy and vibrance. Healthy grocery stores based on local design, Dapulin Community Report that covers news of the entire town, and community health seminars led by doctors from the hospital, elevated the health awareness and engagement of the local community.
Beginning 2002, the department of community medicine collaborated with Jiayi County Government, conducted 54 integrated screenings in 18 townships. In 2009, the hospital worked with Yunlin County Government on another wave of integrated screening. These community integrated screening safeguarded the health of the community through early detection and early treatment.
As time progresses, the medical team journeyed deeper into remote areas. Dapu Village, sitting in the middle of astonishing scenery, is devoid of medical institutions and resources. In response, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital established Dapu medical station, using real-time video to diagnose patients, virtually bringing all the major departments onto the mountain of Dapu.
Green Hospital, Green Earth
Understanding the hard labor of local farmers, the medical team took off their coats to sew and harvest like a regular farmer in the Daai farms. The harvested rice grains, a symbol of goodness, were made into red bags as a gift for Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide.
Vice Supt. Lai Ning-Sheng (now Supt.) led the hospital staff and volunteers to engage in Project Dream Fulfillment, helping local children who are underprivileged. The monthly Little Sun Camp in the hospital is children's favorite. It lifts the children of foreign spouses out of vulnerable environments and helps them to build a positive life attitude.
The hospital staff often use their own vacation to visit and clean the homes of the care recipients. Through contribution towards others, they understand the true meaning of happiness.
Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital introduced the concept of environmental conservation since its inauguration. In addition to the application of green architecture, the hospital implements recycling in its daily operation. This integration of environmental conservation into work and life had won the hospital numerous national awards as a genuine free hospital.
Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital is a home that brings warmth and relaxation to its visitors. When the people of Yunnan-Jianyi area entrust their health and diseases in our hands, we respond with love, care, and professionalism.