An Investigation on Douw Hospital in Beijing

An Investigation on Douw Hospital in Beijing

Chen Fenglin, Liu Shiying, Liang Jun, et al. Laboratory of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beijing Sixth’ Municipal Hospital, Beijing 100007

Abstract Douw Hospital is one of the western medical hospitals and the earliest established by American Presbyterian Mission in 1885 in downtown Beijing. It is good at Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics. It had been playing the role if playing the role of spreading advanced western medical science. It is a Pioneer of transmitting new method of delivery in Beijing and was changed to Beijing Sixth Municipal Hospital since 1949.

Keywords Beijing (Peking), Douw Hospital, Western medicine

Duow Hospital, a Christian Hospital, previously established by Missionary, Ms. Douw D.M. funded by Presbyterian Church. Built in 1885 in Beijing, it was established as a woman’s hospital. In 1917, joined Presbyterian Church Men’s Hospital


The History of Douw Hospital

In 1863, American Presbyterian Mission sent a group of missionaries to Beijing. Ms. Douw D.M. was one of those missionaries. In the beginning, Hungarian doctor, Semmel-Weis I.P. began to deliver babies in a sanitary environment. In the late 1850’s, French doctor Pasteur L. discovered “bacteria”. Together all their knowledge soon spread to American. Ms. Douw D.M. was familiar with all these important knowledge and practices. Therefore, very soon after she arrived in Beijing, she learned of many different problems and tragedy that occurred in China due to the lack of current medical practice and knowledge. She had seen and heard all kinds of tragedies that happened to pregnant women, delivering mothers and infants. Moreover, due to their superstitions and customs. Many babies and mother’s developed all kinds of infection. Accordingly, devastating their families, particularly, women and children were the most affected. For instance, the practice of piercing the infant’s ear would protect the family from harm from the devil. However, this practice was causing an infection which would affect the mother’s health and lactation. As a result, Ms. Douw D.M. soon returned to America and reported back to Presbyterian Church. She raised funds, gathered medical supplies and sought the assistance from medical doctors and HR personnel. She later returned to Beijing and built a woman’s hospital with 12 exam rooms. This was the initial setup of the Douw Hospital. They aggressively promoted safer and more advanced methods of delivering infants. Douw appointed American doctor, Marian Sinelain to be in charge of medication and administration. She also appointed Janet Mekillian to be responsible for nurse training. Local people were weary of these new and foreign practices that Ms. Douw D.M. had brought to Beijing. They were also suspicious of Dr. Douw’s intentions and medical treatment methods. Therefore, there was very few people willing to use the services.

In 1894, Lenard F. E. took over the Head-Physician position and substituted Semmel-Weis I.P. In 1917 funds from reparation were used to build another 3-story building on the North side of the woman’s hospital merged with a men’s hospital which was built in 1901. In honor of missionary Ms. Douw D.M., they named the newly merged hospitals in her name. There were 30 beds; women, men  and Ob/Gyn each had 10 beds.


The Development of Douw Hospital

After a few years of successful operation, the advantage of western medical technology was finally recognized. As a results, numbers of patients began to increase. Therefore, Lenard and Janet Nekillian aggressively trained Chinese nurse aids and this was the beginning of Douw Nursing School.

In 1917, gradutes from Sr. Concord Medicine School came to work in this hospital. Such as, Yu-Mai Wang, Sui-Yi Gao, Yun-Kai Chang, Hsao-Fon Sun, etc. All these graduates spoke English and Chinese, and as a result, the reputation of Douw Hospital became more famous.

In 1920, another 2-story building was built on the West side of Douw Hospital. Their number of beds increased from 30 to 60 total. At the same time they added a few new facilities and they expanded their services.

In 1921, Lenard passed away in Beijing, Bashes, E.N. succeeded the Head-Physician position. During this time, the hospital had great influence. Together, Douw Hospital, Concord Hospital Tong-Zen Hospital, Ru-Ho Hospital and Bao-Ding-Se-Lo Hospital (which belonged to Presbyterian Church in Hwa-Bei),Tien-Gin’s Dai-Tseng Hospital,Sinh-Tai Christian Hospital and Shun-Ter-Fu Christian Hospital formed the “Western Medical Network in Colonial Hwa-Bei.

In 1935, Douw Hospital formed the board of diectors to manage the hospital. The first board of directors meeting included seven members: two were American, one was Dutch, four were Chinese, and the first Chairman of the board  was the Prime Minister, Mr. Wei-Ter Hu’s wife. Total duration of this Board was 4 years, the last 3 years’ Chairman was Tsong-Wei Lu. The ownership of the hospital remained with Presbyterian Mission.

In 1941,right after “Pearl Harbor”, the Japanese army shut down the entire operation of the Douw Hospital with the pretext of the fact that this hospital belonged to their enemy. However, soon after, the Chinese took back the hospital with the fact that the hospital belonged to Chinese Christian Mission, and Chinese Board. And changed the name to “BeiJing Hospital III”, hired Ter-Long Kuo as the head physician. At this point of time, Bashes passed away with cancer. Concord Hospital was forced to close; all the specialists transferred to BeiJing Hospital III, specialists, such as, Chao-Tze Lin, Jai-Dong Dung, An Chang, Song-Tao Guan, and Chi Feng. Concord nursing school was merged with Douw’s nursing school as well.

In August, 1945, Japan surrendered. Presbyterian pastor, Msllis B.R. recovered the hospital and changed back the name of “Douw Hospital”. However, the equipment, and facilities were seriously damaged. Afterwards, the Board hired Yun-Kai Zhang as the head physician, he later resigned in 1946. An American doctor, Henke J.H. was hired by Presbyterian mission. At the same time, a private “Tuberculosis” hospital, Wei-Li-Lau Hospital joined them, and increased 10 beds for the Tuberculosis division. Altogether, there were a total of 70 beds.

In 1949, when Chinese communist party took over the China, the board of Douw Hospital was released, changed into a form of “appointed committee”. So, Henke resigned, a Chinese doctor, Tse-Rong Zhang succeeded as the head physician. Year 1950, the American sponsorship ended. Chinese government, and Presbyterian church together sponsored the Hospital. In 1952, all the American withdrew, and the public health department of BeiJing city government took over the Hospital. They changed the name of the Hospital to BeiJing Hospital VI.

Upon the reform of the Hospital, there were total 192 staff members: one Pastor, three Preachers, 5+ senior doctors, 14 resident doctors, 5 doctor assistants,42 nurses, 36 midwives, 16 medical technicians, 70 administrative staff and labor workers. There were divisions including: Internal, Surgical, OB/GYN, Oral, Radiology, Pharmacy,  and Clinical Lab. The Hospital owned 3-tri-level building, and one one-story building, total of 199 rooms, appro.6000 square meter. The main equipment included: one 50-m.anp. X-Ray machine, one portable X-Ray machine, 6 microscopes, 2 refrigerators, general surgical room, recovery rooms, and all kinds of lab. Facility, plus, 4 various types of  vehicles.

The Technology achievement of Douw Hospital

Before year 1917, this hospital only had OB/GYN, and Pediatrics. The main purpose was to promote advanced method of delivery. That advanced method of delivery largely improved the medical condition in Beijing. It was obvious for reduction of risk of newborn’s Tetanus and Puerperal Fever. This Douw hospital became the pioneer with sharing advanced method of delivery.

Year 1917, the hospital added men’s division, majored in general surgery and orthopedic­; in addition, they could perform more complicated surgeries, such as orthopedic surgery and fractured bones treatment. An American doctor, Williams Cochran, and a Chime doctor, Ter-tien Cha, were the best ones. As obstetrics/gynecology further developed, up to 1946, the hospital was able to handle all kinds of Dystocia, such as caesarean section, hysterectomy, breach-labor, removal of uterus, etc. Overall, the Douw hospital in OB/GYN field, was at the leading position in Beijing.

Accordingly, their business had been growing largely. Until 1948, there were 35,301 people per year for out-patient services, and 2010 people per year for in-patients procedures. They were also responsible for the school district medical services, such as Tsong-Shi High school, Tsong-Shi elementary school, Tsong-Tze Girls High school, and Douw’s nursing school.

The hospital was also the very first one to promote vaccination. In their school district, they provided free vaccination and this effectively stopped the contagious diseases.

From October, 1947, every Wednesday, the hospital sent out doctors and missionaries together to serve the inmates of II Jail at Der-Wai-Da street for free, preaching to them at the same time. Moreover, they also provided free medical service and preached to refugees, homeless, and refugee students.

As to Douw’s nursing school, from 1908 to 1948, there were a total of 161 graduates as nurses and midwives. Douw’s nursing school is the first nursing school that trained a large number of medical-related workers such as nurses, midwives, etc. in China.

The Finance of Douw Hospital

50% of the total income source of Douw Hospital came from donations of churches and certain international organizations. Almost all the medicines were from overseas sponsors. Besides the regular donations from Presbyterian Church, there were donations from American Red-Cross, and other international organizations. In Douw Hospital, for non-Chinese employees and doctors, their salary was paid directly from Presbyterian Church with U.S dollars. And for Chinese employees, doctors, and nurses, their salary was paid with current commodities at the time. Furthermore, the hospital not only provides their employees’ daily needs, the hospital could also provide the employees’ families up to four members’ daily needs. In addition to that, the employees of Douw hospital and their families were in entitled to free medication whenever they needed. Employees’ children were eligible to attend Tsong-Shi schools and Tsong-Tze schools for free.

Patients entitled to free service was about 30% of total patients. But the cost of these people of free service patient was only 10% of the total cost of hospital. This fact explained that there were restrictions to receive free services. Among the items of expenses, the largest expenses were mainly used in missions.

Religious Activities

Before War World 2, all the members, employees, doctors, and nurses were all Christian. After the war, there were a few non-Christians; however, no matter Christians or non-Christians, they were all required to participate in Sunday worships and daily devotional meetings. At that time, before all the out-service patients could see the doctor, they were required first to listen to lady missionary’s preaching in a room at the east-wing of the hospital. The missionary could also preach in the in-patient service rooms. In addition, there was a big chapel in the hospital that could accommodate 100 persons per service. All the windows of the chapel were stained glass windows with a big cross hanging above the stage. In those years, all the people around the area came to worship services.

Shortly, non-believers were not able to work in this hospital. For example, in the 40’s, there was an intern-doctor named Jia-Yi Chen, who was fired because of his different beliefs.

Current update of Foreign Doctors

From the beginning, lady Douw, to the departure of Lewis, there were a total of more than 20 foreign doctors that worked in Douw Hospital. There were American, Dutch, and Swiss doctors. According to Doctor Tze-Rong Zhang and San-Ai Ma, all these foreign doctors were sincere Christians with excellent skills and well service attitudes. They were friends with passion for China. Some worked their whole life in China, such as Leonard and Bashes. Among them, the ones with the most contributions were Leonard, Bashes, and Henke. Leonard and Bashes were the ones who helped to enlarge the size of hospital and too increase the procedure varieties. Henke had contributed to recover the hospital after WWII.

Due to the war, a considerable amount of documents and records were destroyed by Japanese soldiers. As a result, from 1930 to 1940 those records of foreign doctors were missing.

Recently, we visited a medical history scholar, professor Tze-Fan Chuen. Based on his memory, in year 30 to 40, there was an American doctor Welley. He was a sincere Presbyterian, a good internal doctor, was responsible for tuberculosis division. He served both Douw hospital and Bao Ding Si Luo hospital, preaching and practicing medical services. He was very successful, patient with a type of surgery used in western world at that time. He also published a booklet teaching people how to prevent tuberculosis. Unfortunately, because of over exposure to X-ray and the lack of knowledge about radiation, he passed away shortly after returning back to America with cancer.

In 1950, foreign doctors working in hospital were Henke(head physician), Lewis(surgical doctor), William Cochran( surgical doctor), Satorswis( OB/GYN), Mrs. Henke( head nurse), Mary Williams Cochran, and Perkins( Principal of Douw Nursing school). They lived in Beijing, at Beijing city hospital VI. The place they lived was once called Bamboo Court.

In 1973, after 33 years, Dr. Henke and his wife visited Beijing and saw Douw hospital( Beijing city hospital VI). They broke down in tears and took a lot of pictures, and visited friends. Henke said it was worth coming back to visit. 3 months after he visited, he passed away. In 1984, Mrs. Henke visited the hospital once again with her two sons.

In 1982, May 10-27th, Dr. Cochran and Mrs. Cochran also visited Beijing. Mrs. William Cochran even published a book about Douw Hospital and Beijing city hospital VI.


In the 66-year history, even though the Douw hospital experienced destruction of “Yi-Huh Twan”, and Japanese army, it recovered and grew once again. Although the initial purpose of establishing this hospital was for mission; however, it benefited the medical condition in China , and unexpectedly became the bridge to connect the advanced western world medicine to Chinese society. In particular, it greatly improved the medical environment, transformed the way of delivery, and introduced vaccination. It also contributed largely to train nurses, midwives, medical assistants, and medical technicians in China. Upon such a solid foundation of Douw hospital, Beijing hospital VI  now has not only  become a well-known, modernized, and diversified procedures medical building with 113-year history. But also, it is now the leading hospital with great contribution to all its people.