About 80 years ago a few Brethren missionaries initiated a medical work in Central Kerala, concentrated majorly in and around the town of Tiruvalla (now Thiruvalla) in connection with those known as Christian Brethren was commenced at Kumbanad by Mrs. J. Noel.
The first doctor in connection with the above was Dr. P.C Fountain. Dr. Fountain who began work in Alleppey in the year 1935 and later continued in Kottayam and also assisted in the work at Tiruvalla for a time. Their selfless and sacrificial services, especially in the health-care of the poor and down-trodden were greatly appreciated by the local people. One such admirer of this missionary work was Dr. Dewan Bahadhur V.Verghese, the Chief Physician of the King of Travancore.
Tiruvalla Medical Mission began as a dream in the heart of Dewan Bahadur Dr. V. Varghese. As an ardent Christian, he read and studied closely the works of early missionaries. The life that most impressed him was that of George Mueller, a prayer warrior and a leader of the orphanage movement in England. Drawing a page from Muellers life, the Dewan dedicated his life, resources and skills for the betterment of society. The doctor’s passionate dream had then become a fervent desire. Therefore, when Dr Verghese retired from the royal service, he immediately began to give shape and structure to his vision. And by 1935, he established a hospital on a small wooded hillock near the Tiruvalla railway station, Kerala, India. The same is the present site occupied by the main hospital of Tiruvalla Medical Mission (TMM) comprising a small hospital, with consulting rooms, dispensary, dressing room and a small theatre.
Along with laying the foundation for the hospital, he also laid the principles for service and administration all decisions had to be in accordance with ethical and Christian principles. Thus, TMM began as a small step of faith for Dewan Bahadur, but a giant leap for the people of Central Travancore.
Soon, advancing age weakened Dr Varghese and he began to earnestly pray for someone to take over the responsibility of the hospital. The answer to his prayers arrived in the form of Dr and Mrs. R. S Churchward, medical missionaries from New Zealand, belonging to the Brethren Assemblies. Dr Verghese handed over the hospital with a ten acre land and few old buildings in the heart of Tiruvalla totally free for the medical work of the Brethren as a token of his appreciation of their work. With the cooperation of Painummoottil P.V. George, missionaries E. H Noel and G. L Fountain, the Churchwards took the opportunity as a divine commission in 1940, and was registered as a Charitable Trust. Dr. Churchward, as a Trustee and Chief Medical Officer took charge.
The people of Tiruvalla and central Travancore nicknamed the establishment as Sahibs Hospital (Saayippinte Aasupathri in Malayalam). In those days hospitals were few and far between and nursing study courses unheard of in the State of Travancore or in Malabar. However in the State of Cochin, a three year course in nursing was in existence from 1928. But midwifery training for nurses was not compulsory. In CMC hospital, Vellore a Nursing Diploma course was started far back in 1909. So several educated girls from Travancore, interested in nursing study, found their way to Vellore.
The Medical Missionary team of Tiruvalla Medical Mission, being well aware of the contribution of the trained nurses back in England felt that Indian girls in large number must be trained as nurses in order to give efficient healthcare in hospital and community. With this vision a Nurses Training course was started in TMM hospital in 1943. Duration of the course was four years. Medium of instruction was Malayalam. The first principal of the school was Mrs. Rachel Churchward, a missionary nurse who was assisted by two other missionary nurses – Ms. Parkinson from England and Ms. Elliot from Australia. The next forty years – until 1983 TMM School of Nursing had the advantage of having 15 trained Missionary Nurses from overseas teaching in this school along with their Indian counterparts. In the year 1943, Travancore State Government also started a four year program in Nursing and the school was attached to the General Hospital, Trivandrum. Hence in the State of Travancore, the nursing course had a simultaneous beginning in Private and Public sector.
It was from these beginnings under the evident blessings of God that the work has grown and has been extended to the present branch hospitals at Vazhoor and Mannamaruthy. Over the years, a number of missionaries from Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia served the hospital. The last overseas missionary left in 1984 and since then it is managed by committed and professional Indians.
TMM is now a registered Charitable Society under the official name “The Dewan Bahadur Dr. V. Verghese Hospital Trust Association”. TMM offers medical and other services in almost every branch of human health requirement.