During the 1950s, leprosy was a significant problem in the far western hilly region of Nepal, but treatment was not available here. Leprosy patients had to travel to Chandag Leprosy Hospital in India for treatment – walking at least 50 miles each way. With each passing day, more and more patients from Far Western Nepal were coming to the hospital. Dr. Katherine Young and Miss Andrews, a pharmacist, had been working at Chandag, and on the invitation of the patients they had treated, came to Dadeldhura and established a clinic to provide leprosy treatment and pediatric care. At that time, Dadeldhura was a very remote, undeveloped area. All supplies had to be carried in on a five-day long trek from the nearest road. Due to the needs of the community, the clinic quickly evolved into a general medical practice.
In the 1960s, both Dr. Young and Miss Andrews were in there sixties, and it was becoming difficult for them to trek through the undeveloped, hilly terrain in the Far West. They began looking for others who could continue the work of the clinic. Dr. Maynard Seaman had been working with TEAM in northern India for several years, but had always had the desire to work in Nepal. After connecting with one another, plans were made to transfer the clinic to TEAM. In 1968, Dr. Maynard and Dorothy Seaman, along with Peter and Pauline Hanks, took their children on the long and arduous trek across the mountains to the site of Dr. Young’s clinic. After the two families came, the clinic became officially known as TEAM Hospital.
In spite of its remote location the hospital treated anywhere from 150-400 patients a day. The medical staff chronicled many stories of people who came with injuries after falling from mountain paths, burns from cooking fires, and cuts inflicted by chopping knives and scythes used to harvest grain and grass.
TEAM hospital continued to faithfully serve the needs of the community over the coming years. Whoever walked through the door was attended to regardless of their disease state. The occasional surgery with ether anesthesia was performed on a table in the corner of the clinic. The hospital’s reputation spread throughout the surrounding hills, eventually necessitating the construction of a new clinic and ward to meet the demands of the increasing patient load. Additional expatriate volunteers arrived to help, and the services offered continued to expand.
In 1989, on invitation of the local authorities, a newer facility was built by TEAM to provide expanded health services to the community. The outpatient clinic, 25 bed wards, procedure rooms, and operating room, was completed in Tufandanda, Dadeldhura, about five kilometers away from the original clinic. TEAM continued to operate both facilities until 1997, at which time the entire operation was moved to the newer facility.
In 2007, TEAM made the decision to hand over operations of the hospital to Human Development Community Services (HDCS), a Christian Nepali non-governmental organization engaged in health care and education work. TEAM has remained involved with the hospital through supplying personnel and funds, although from the very beginning an emphasis has been placed on raising up Nepali staff to effectively accomplish the work of the hospital. At this point, the hospital is run by a Nepali administrator and an American medical director. Our staff is almost all Nepali, including most of our doctors. A full complement of medical, pediatric, obstetric, lab, imaging, and outpatient services are offered. But the needs of the people here remain great, with poverty and a lack of adequate medical facilities in the surrounding districts persisting. The needs are profound, but so are the opportunities to improve the health of this community.