In the early 1960’s, a Gurkha soldier extended an invitation to a physician in the British Army to start a medical project in the Okhaldhunga district. From its beginnings as a small remote clinic, it has grown into a medium-sized community hospital of 50 inpatient beds, with plans to expand towards a 100-bed hospital in the future. It also hosts a Community-Based Rehabilitation program. Nestled in a remote region of the foothills of the Himalayas due south from Mount Everest, the hospital is a referral centre for Okhaldhunga district and additionally serves people in the surrounding districts, accounting for a population of more than 250,000. The hospital provides primary hospital services, particularly in the areas of adult medicine and surgery, maternity, paediatrics and orthopaedics. When patients require more specialised treatment they are referred to a larger centre – most commonly Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
This hospital treats 36,000 outpatients every year and admits 6000 cases. Surgical procedures depend on the surgical skills and experience of the medical staff at any time. The hospital performs about 1600 surgical procedures per year. The surgical procedures here consist of emergency life-saving surgery like caesarean sections, other obstetric emergencies, laparotomies, and trauma surgery including orthopaedics, in addition to minor surgery. It is a general practice level hospital. Nonetheless, a wide range of surgical procedures are done. There are 125 staff working across the hospital, Community-Based Rehabilitation program, and the Okhaldhunga School of Health Sciences.
The hospital has six medical staff: a medical coordinator, two senior MDGP doctor posts and three junior doctor posts. This is also one of the more remote hospitals where general practice / family medicine doctors are trained for their district posting. These residents are trained in basic general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, emergency medicine, and basic anaesthesia. They come to Okhaldhunga for rotations of three months.
The hospital is accessible by road. It is approximately an 8-hour journey to reach Okhaldhunga from Kathmandu. The hospital has:
- electricity and good water supply
- mobile phone coverage
- email and internet facilities
- an irregular internal mail service to and from Kathmandu (depending on when the hospital vehicle goes in for supplies)
- a guesthouse with basic facilities situated near to the hospital
- close to Mt Everest viewing – 1.5 hours drive for a stunning sunrise on the Himalayas
- many places to walk
- 30 minutes’ walk to district centre for shopping and cafes
- a temperate climate