The M.L.L. Hospital in Madanapalle has come a long from being the ‘ghosha hospital' it began as, over a hundred years ago.
Madanapalle in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh was one of the very few towns in the erstwhile Madras Presidency to boast of a full fledged first grade hospital as early as the beginning of the 20th century. At that time such towns and cities elsewhere could hardly possess anything by way of organised health care. The Mary Lott Lyles Hospital familiarly known as the M.L.L. Hospital in the Mission Compound in the heart of Madanapalle, was established in November 1911 and thus is completing one hundred years of dedicated service in the field of Medical aid. As the hospital originally was meant only for women and children, and several women in purdah used to come here, its is even now known locally as the ‘Gosha Hospital'.
Dr. Chamberlain's early efforts:
Madanapalle has a long and chequered history of medical care and medical institutions initiated by the Missionaries. In fact as early as 1863 an informal dispensary was opened by a missionary, Dr. Jacob Chamberlain, on the veranda of his bungalow in the mission compound. People from the neighbouring villages used to flock to this dispensary and Dr. Chamberlain was known to have offered medical aid every morning on the days he stayed in the town. On the days he toured the villages around Madanapalle on a bullock cart, his little bag of equipment was known to travel with him constantly.
As the burden of medical relief became too heavy to bear, Dr. Chamberlain turned to the government with a request that it establish a hospital in the town. In 1868, the Collector Cuddapah, H.G. Smith sanctioned a dispensary for Madanapalle. Dr. Ward, a military doctor was appointed to the dispensary and he served it with great dedication for over a quarter of a century.
Hospital for women and kids:Dr. Chamberlain was keen that a hospital in Madanapalle be started particularly for women and children with a doctor of its own. Rajamanikyam, who was working as a headmistress of a Mission School in Madurai was specially brought to Madanapalle for one year's preliminary training under Dr. Chamberlain. She was then sent to Madras Medical College to get qualified as a regular Doctor. Having finished her course in 1894, Rajamanikyam came back to Madanapalle and at once occupied herself serving the women and children. Her services however were terminated tragically for, while treating the plague patients during the epidemic of 1904, which took a toll of 186 lives in Madanapalle alone, she herself was afflicted with the disease and died.
Dr. Rajamanikyam like Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy of Madras, was one of the early women doctors to serve in the Madras Presidency.
Mary Lott Lyles Hospital:
Dr. Louisa H. Hart, an American Missionary doctor was deputed by the American Arcot Mission (AAM) to carry on medical work in Madanapalle. With the arrival of Dr. Hart in 1909, a new chapter in the history of Medical care in Madanapalle region was heralded. She received a handsome donation of $ 10 thousand from the Women's Board in America to start a hospital in Madanapalle in memory of an American social worker, Mary Lott Lyles.. In November, 1911, the Mary Lott Lyles (M.L.L.) Hospital was opened by J. S. Atkinson, member of the Governor's Council, Madras. Dr. Hart was the first physician in-charge of the new hospital and Miss. Josephine Te Winkle was the first Nursing Superintendent. Dr. Chamberlain's desire to have an exclusive hospital for women and children in Madanapalle thus was fulfilled due to the efforts of Dr. Hart.
Dr. Hart gave 42 years of faithful and devoted service to Madanapalle. She was awarded the Kaiser-I-Hind, the Jubilee and Coronation Medals by the Government. Her quiet and unselfish influence abides in the hearts of thousands even now. Dr. Hart also was responsible for the establishment of the Union Mission Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Madanapalle, hailed as one of the best Sanatoria in the world.
Steady progress of the Hospital:
In 1950, the M.L.L. Hospital that was exclusively meant for women and children was converted into a general hospital.
In recent decades, the hospital has seen much progress in the expansion of buildings, equipment and infrastructure. The hospital in the Mission Compound is located amidst picturesque surroundings studded with several large trees and lush green manicured lawns. Though several private nursing homes and hospitals on corporate lines have mushroomed in the town, the M.L.L Hospital in Madanapalle continues to be popular with its dedicated services. On its completion of one hundred years of service, the management of the Hospital as well as the grateful public of Madanapalle are planning to celebrate the Centenary of the M.L.L Hospital in a big way this month.