Taipei has the famous Losheng Sanatorium 樂生療養院 but Kaohsiung also has a similar hospital. Though not nearly as big or as famous as Losheng Sanatorium it is still an important part of Kaohsiung’s history. And unfortunately the man who founded this place recently passed away. So I thought this would be a time to write up a short blog about the man and the building.
Olav Bjorgaas 師畢嘉士 was born in Norway in 1926. He was famous in Taiwan and especially south Taiwan as a doctor treating leprosy, tuberculosis, and polio patients. He was so beloved in Taiwan he was known as Papa Bi 小兒痲痺之父. He spent 30 years in Taiwan. Starting out in Taipei at Losheng Sanatorium he spent most of his time in Pingtung and Kaoshiung. He recently passed away on November 15th, 2019. Papa Bi seemed to be a hard man to work with, but very dedicated to his patients. You can read more about him here and here.
Dr. Bjørgaas opened this hospital in Sanmin District of Kaohsiung in 1961 and named it Special Dermatology Clinic 特別皮膚科診所的麻瘋病醫院. The doctor never used the name leprosy and tried to help patients who were often in hiding due to stigma and fear of being forcefully quarantined by the government to Losheng Sanatorium. He traveled all around Pingtung and Kaohsiung looking for patients to help.
Apparently, the hospital was in use for about 20 years or so. treating leprosy, polio and tuberculous patients in south Taiwan. It has very little left inside.
In Honor of “Redd Barna” (The Norwegian Section of Save the Children. ) This Clinic is Dedicated on the 12 Day of December in the apreciation of Save the Children Service to the Children of Free China. Free China was of course one of Taiwan’s, Formosa’s, Republic of China’s Cold War names.
There isn’t much left in the way to let you know of the history that it was once a hospital. But it does have some signs around.
I rarely go to this section of town. However, we had another really rainy August this year. I still go out in the rain, but usually just walking around. I was out with a walk with the Thirsty Cyclist and spotted this building. So I went to take a look and was very surprised and then went home to google about its history and was like wow. Cool!
It hasn’t been used as a clinic for many years and now has the name. There are people using it for storage and stuff. So glad that it is still around. Sad that the Dr’s passing brought it back to semi-fame in Kaohsiung though.