Mary Johnston Hospital

Mary Johnston Hospital

The only Methodist hospital in the Philippines

Mary Johnston Hospital is the only Methodist Church hospital in the whole of the Philippines and has been serving for 105 years in Tondo where the majority of the patients are poor. The establishment of the hospital “Dispensaria Betania” (Bethany Clinic), was the church’s response to the lack of sanitation, drinking water and proper nutrition in the Philippines in 1906. The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society sent Dr. Rebecca Parish, from Logansport, Indiana, as a medical missionary and became the first female doctor in the country. In 1908, when Dr. Parish asked for help in the building of a real hospital, Mrs. Bishop [Carrie] Joyce, then secretary of the Philippine Desk of the WFMS, approached Mr. Daniel S. B. Johnston of St. Paul, Minnesota and asked him to build a much-needed hospital in Manila in memory of his wife, Mary Johnston.

Over the course of time, the national government on several occasions expressed its thanks for the hospital’s mission and introduced a bill passed by the Philippines Legislature giving the hospital financial aid and allowing the lease to the hospital of land in order to extend its services. The hospital was completely destroyed by fire in February, 1945, and on September 3, 1949, the cornerstone for the present hospital was laid. On August 26, 1950, the new building was inaugurated by the late Philippine President Elpidio Quirino when he said, “I wish there were more hospitals in the country that could render as much service as this hospital has rendered.”

The hospital is credited with drastically reducing infant mortality with its advice on proper nutrition, care, and sanitation. During the early history of the hospital, Dr. Parish was the central figure and guiding light, never giving up even when funds were low. She also established the first nurses’ training in the country. The Hospital was recognized by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines as a historical landmark on December 8, 2006.

Taken with permission from Heritage Landmarks: A Traveler’s Guide to the Most Sacred Places in The United Methodist Church, by the General Commission on Archives and History. For more information, see http://www.gcah.org/research/travelers-guide/mary-johnston-hospital