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Friday, October 28, 2016

The Man Behind The Saint

The cool aspect of the Internet as we know it, is the fun one can experience while tumbling down the proverbial rabbit hole.

 Just as I was recently inspired to compile a list of all the Japanese volcanoes (HERE) after starting write-up on Japan’s National Parks (and yet to complete), so too was I inspired to write about St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo after I received a wonderful present in the mail from my friend Vinnie—a man I haven’t yet met, but is a dedicated reader who helps edit my material after the fact to ensure it’s not as poor to read as it could be.

By the way… you other loyal readers - feel free to send me free gifts, too.

One of the items (plural) Vincent sent me was a six-in-one Occupation Map of Japan and the Far East published in 1945 that he purchased and thought I would enjoy writing about.

True… but not yet.

I decided to bring it into work (I have a real job—‘cause I choose not to make skadillions of dollars from this blog by not having ads on it) to show my friend Michael P. who lived in Tokyo for five years, beginning just after I left the country in 1993.

He glanced at the map, spotted St. Luke’s International Hospital and then located where is former residence would one day be located just across the Sumida River (which was, in the 1945 map, labeled as ‘warehouse’).

Occupation Map - 1945. St. Luke's is located just below the Kyobashi Ward label in the center of the photo.

Michael commented on how there seemed to be so many Christian churches scattered across the map—but I was only listening to the term St. Luke International Hospital.

I had come across it once or twice before over the past six years of writing this blog and always wondered just why there was an English name on a hospital in Japan. Maybe one day I'll wonder why there were so many English-named churches, too.

Google Map - 2016
So... here's how it begins:

In 1900, Dr. Rudolph B. Teusler and his wife Mary arrived in Japan.

He was born on February 25, 1876 and was a medical doctor and lay missionary who worked under the Foreign and Domestic Missionary Society of the American Episcopal Church.

A native of Rome. Georgia (the U.S. state, not the European country), and growing up in Richmond, Virginia, he went to medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, and interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York, as well as other hospitals in Baltimore, Montreal and Quebec City before returning to Richmond as an assistant professor of pathology and bacteriology at the Medical College of Virginia.

In Japan, Teusler established an almshouse in the Tsukudajima-area of Tokyo before founding St. Luke’s Hospital in 1902 in Tokyo’s Kyobashi ward.
The original St. Luke's Hospital in 1902.
Teusler was a cousin of Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson (1915-1921 served). How'd you like to have middle names of "Bollling or Galt"?

By 1910, his newly-established nursing school studied with 10 students, with a pharmacy—St. Luke’s Pharmacy—established in the Ginza area in 1912. The nursing school was the first such institution in Japan.

In 1913, St. Luke’s board of sponsors—Okuma Shigenobu, Goto Shinpei, Sakai Tokutaro, Sakatani Yoshitaro, and Shibusawa Sakatani (all men, and all surname first)—approved the construction of a new hospital on the site of the original one, adding the word “International” to its moniker in 1917.

St. Luke's International Hospital 1917.
At this time, with WWI raging across Europe (Japan was on the side of the Allies against Germany et al), in 1918 Dr. Teusler was assigned to Vladivostok of the Russian Empire during Russia's Civil War (November 1917 - October 1922).  He became the Head Physician of the Japan-Siberia-USA Red Cross with 30 doctors and nurses under his command.

He remained in Russia until 1921, provided with a military rank of Lt. Colonel, offering medical supplies to Czech, Slovak, and White Russian forces as they fought against the Red Army. Yes comrade, Teusler backed the wrong side in this one.

Following his service in Russia, he went back to Japan, and after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 completely devastated the Tokyo-area, he fund-raised with the U.S. to construct a new St. Luke Hospital on the same site.

Of course, while a temporary hospital was set up—including Japan’s first Central Laboratory—a 1925 fire took out the 50 or so beds, though all 140 inpatients were saved.

Other first include:
  • 1927: Public Health Nursing Department is established;
  • 1929: Medical Social Services Department is established;
  • 1933: American-style residency training system is introduced;
  • 1956: Medical Records Management Department is set up;
  • 1968: The Coronary Care Unit (CCU) is established, the first for a general hospital in Japan;
  • 1992: The new hospital (currently the Main Hospital Building) is completed, the first 100%-private room hospital in Japan;
  • 1995: Routine hospital-acquired infection surveillance (per United States CDC guidelines) is initiated, the first for Japan;

Obviously, there are plenty of other things that hospital has done, but the ones above are ‘firsts’ for Japan. Click HERE to see the whole list.

In 1933, the new St. Luke’s International Hospital is completed, with six floors above ground and one floor below it, which seems like you are just asking for trouble in an area rife with seismic activity. Anyhow, this new hospital is now called the “Old Building” within the modern-day hospital complex.

St. Luke's International Hospital 1933. Now that is how you fund-raise!
Aware that he would have to retire one day, soon enough, Teusler surrounded himself with western-trained Japanese staff, to ensure it had Japanese roots.

Teusler was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (旭日章, Kyokujitsu-shō), 5th Class, Gold and Silver Rays, by the Japanese Government for his contributions to public health and the development of modern medical practice in Japan. I am unable to determine when exactly he was awarded this medal - posthumously or anti-posthumously… uh, unposthumously… oh yeah - when he was alive. 

The Order of the Rising Sun is the third-highest honor bestowed by the Japanese government, and is given to those who have made distinguished achievement in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field or development in welfare or preservation of the environment.

Where’s mine?

Teusler was also awarded the Russian medal of St. Vladimir and the Czechoslovak war medal for his assistance in the evacuation of injured Czech prisoners of war from Vladivostok.

Teusler passed away in Tokyo on August 10, 1934 at the age of 58.  This is him below... at the age of 58 or younger.


Now, I know that man worked hard and all that, but holy crap, he’s about six years older than I am now, and I don’t look anyway near as haggard. I swear! Or... is this something I have to look forward to in the next six years? Damn.

A month after the war (WW2) ended, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur aka the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, said the the occupying forces had “acquired St. Luke’s Hospital for a period of 10 years, after which it would be returned to Japan for normal use.

In the mean time, it was to be used as an Allied headquarters, as well as a facility to treat Allied personnel. In fact, it used to treat soldiers hurt during the Korean Conflict (formerly the Korean War).

Thanks, Michael!

Kanpai,
Dr. Andrew Joseph... who?
Bonus doctor story:
When I was a little bugger… around four-years-old and in Toronto, I recall wearing a t-shirt that looked like a white doctor’s uniform, complete with a stethoscope around my neck, and in the fake breast pocket, various pens, and a thermometer.

It proudly bore the phrase in Red letters over a second breast pocket, I believe, (that is I think it was over a second pocket - it might have been across the lower front of the shirt): “My son the doctor”.

Not quite, but close enough.
I kid you not. I’m sure my mother was never more disappointed when she realized I wasn’t that smart. It probably first occurred for her later that afternoon.

Flash forward to later that afternoon… we were in a Woolworth’s, I believe at Bloor and Royal York in Etobicoke… we were near or at the cash register. The shopping cart was full, and I was standing on the front end of it.

Anyhow, my mom had been pushing the cart and myself around the store. But… for whatever reason, she let go of cart, and to everyone’s surprise, the cart flipped over with my 40 pounds (no idea if that was accurate) of weight acting as a counterweight, and ended up on the floor with packed goods around me and the upside down shopping cart atop me.

I'm pretty sure the shock of it caused me to cry my eyes out, because I wasn't physically hurt.

Let present-me time trip for a second... oh yeah... I was crying... took a few seconds after it happened for the shock to kick in. Then, like now, I have a LOUD VOICE!

Obviously I recall all of this because it was pretty traumatic. And that was back in the 1960s… so apparently time does not heal all wounds.

I know, I know: Tell us another one, grandpa!

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