Sunday, January 20, 2008

McKean Hospital (Leprosy Colony)

I visited a colleage that works at McKean and received the guided tour. Leprosy is nearly eradicated, due to education and care,however, McKean continues to administer care to a few rare cases of leprosy, but now is more focused on elderly care. Quite a few former leper patients are now working for McKean by doing handicrafts, making prosthetic limbs and making bicycles. The island also has housing for assisted living patients.

McKean Hospital was founded in 1908 by Presbyterian Missionaries Mr and Mrs McKean. This was the first Leprosy center in Thailand. McKean is located on a island surrounded on one side by a river and a stream that connects the river to create an island of sorts. McKean is located south of the Chiang Mai city center. The hospital grew in stages of being a leprosy colony and hospital to a leprosy rehabilitation center providing physical and occupational therapy. Their goal is to empower these patients to attain their maximum potential physically and to be psychologically healthy with a sense of worth and self acceptance, and to be able to live productive lives with acceptance and dignity in their own community.

The whole island is beautiful and lush and is its own self-contained little community. I felt very thankful to see the center and talk with the staff and patients at McKean. McKean is a success story here in Thailand. There no longer is a stigmatization of lepers like there once was, due to educating the public about leprosy and the caring and nuturing work of the people that work at McKean.