The new Malteser Hospital opened in Danang this week (18 January), marking a major shift in a medical aid programme run by West Germans in the war-torn country for the past five years.
The new Malteser Hospital opened in Danang this week (18 January), marking a major shift in a medical aid programme run by West Germans in the war-torn country for the past five years. Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem, acting on behalf of President Nguyen Van Thieu, cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the new 21-million mark (2,500,000 sterling) complex, which replaces the 3,100 ton excursion ship Helgoland, which had been used as a hospital ship.
The Helgoland began its tour of duty in Vietnam in 1966, after being chartered by the Bonn government and converted to a floating hospital by the West German Red Cross. Thousands of Vietnamese civilians have received treatment from the ship's Red Cross doctors, nurses and laboratory assistants. The ship is now heading for its home port in Hamburg to be re-converted to a tourist liner.
The new hospital is being run by the West German Kinghts of Malta Aid Organisation, but they plan to turn over the complex to the Vietnamese within the next four years.
SYNOPSIS: The West German sponsored Malteser Hospital was officially opened in Danang on Tuesday. South Vietnam's Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem, acting on behalf of President Nguyen Van Thieu, officiated at the ceremony opening the twenty-one million mark complex, which replaces the hospital ship Helgoland.
Other officials present included the West German Ambassador and representatives of the United States and South Vietnamese military. The one-hundred and seventy-two bed hospital is run by the West German Knights of Malta Aid Organisation.
Public Health First Class medals were presented to the staff of the new hospital by the Prime Minister. The Malteser Hospital has, two surgical and internal wards, as well as an isolation intensive care ward. The entire complex will be turned over to the Vietnamese within the next four years, but to many residents of this Northern Coastal Regio??? the hospital ship Helgoland will be missed.
Following ceremonies at the Malteser Hospital, the Prime Minister and other officials went to the Helgoland for a farewell ceremony. Having transferred the last of the patients to the new hospital the crew was ready to set sail for its home port in Hamburg. Over the past five years, thousands of Vietnamese civilians have been treated by the staff of the Helgoland. The ship's one-hundred and eighty beds have been filled to over-flowing. At the farewell ceremony, the staff and crew of the vessel received the Public Health First Class medals from South Vietnamese officials.
The three-thousand ton excursion ship was chartered by the Bonn government and converted to a floating hospital by the West German Red Cross. In 1966, the ship was sent to the Vietnam war zon by the West German government. The ship' Red Cross doctors, nurses and laboratory assistants will be flying home this week. The Helgoland itself is sailing to Hamburg to be re-converted to a tourist liner, ending its seventy-million mark aid project.