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KRCH Archive: Boats, Carts and Elephants

By Dr. Phil McDaniel

In the early days of the hospital, patients came and went using multiple means of transportation. The method used in a given case depended upon distance to travel, the season, the patient’s resources, what types of vehicles could get through, and how ill the patient was.

Boat, patient, hammock, old hospital site
At the original hospital site [now under water due to a hydroelectric project], patients were sometimes brought by boat. See boat in foreground, patient in a hammock suspended from a bamboo pole in the background. (early 1980’s)
This patient [the man behind the mahout] arrived at the hospital on elephant back. As I recall, his reason for coming to the hospital was giddiness. Given that elephants lurch and sway when they walk, this was a curious choice for means of transportation.

Oxcart pulling up to the front of the hospital (probably in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s).
Patient suspended from a bamboo pole approaching the rear entrance of the “new” hospital in Huey Malai. [This picture, taken by my dad, Dr. Ed McDaniel, during one of his volunteer stints, was actually staged following the recovery of the patient!] Note that the patient is suspended from the pole by sarongs, the same type of garment worn by the bearers of the pole. Patients who arrived at the hospital this way were usually in bad shape: incapacitated by a land mine injury, a gunshot wound, a stroke, cerebral malaria, cholera, or snake bite. (mid 1980s, rainy season; hospital staff houses in the background)
Two patients slung from hammocks in the back of a pickup truck. (probably late 1980’s or early 1990’s)
Patients often come and go from the hospital in taxi-buses: pickup trucks with two long benches in the back. (1990’s)
These passengers boarded this “long tail” boat at the boat landing in front of the doctor’s house at the original hospital site. It was taking the mobile clinic team to one of the villages it regularly visited and was also returning a patient and his family to their home. (early 1980’s)
Many patients came to the hospital on motorcycles: usually just 1-3 per motorcycle, but sometimes more! Hopefully this family has now heard about family planning. (early 1980’s)
Patient and family heading home after hospital discharge (early 1980’s).
Patient, improved, returning home with family (early 1980’s).



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