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Synapticism

An experiential journal of synchronicity and connection

Hospitals

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Yuanlin Hospital 員林醫院

Yuanlin Hospital in deep afternoon
Deep afternoon at an infamous abandoned hospital in Yuanlin, Taiwan.

Despite having spent a lot of time in Yuánlín 員林, a mid-sized city in central Changhua 彰化, Taiwan 台灣, I have only recently begun to explore some of its more famous ruins. Among these is Yuanlin Hospital 員林醫院, formally the Changhua County Yuanlin Hospital 彰化縣立員林醫院, originally built in 1963 and operational until the the turn of the millennium. Nowadays it is one of the more notorious abandoned places in central Taiwan, where it is regularly featured in news reports, particularly around Ghost Month 鬼月. Taiwanese media engage in an annual outpouring of overly sensationalized stories about haunted places—and hospitals, as liminal spaces of birth and death, often appear in such reports, complicating research into the real story of what went on.

A System of Tubes

Snaking up the walls of Taichung
Snaking up the back walls of a hospital in central Taichung.

I captured these pipes snaking up the side of building in Taichung 台中 while circumambulating the Zhongying Recreational Building 中英育樂大樓 in search of another way to the forbidden upper levels. Since I just went to the trouble of cleaning up this photo for use on the cover for my latest house and techno mix, Heat Sync, I figured I may as well share it here as well. Now that I’ve looked into it this is actually the back of Cheng Ching General Hospital 澄清綜合醫院 (pinyin: Chéngqīng), which should explain why there’s so much going on here. At least it’s not a disorderly mess.

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao

Tudigong statue on the outskirts of Pingtung City
A Tudigong 土地公 statue on the outskirts of Pingtung City 屏東市.

After spending a day riding around Pingtung City I was ready to hit the road again. With no specific destination in mind—only an intention to head in the direction of Héngchūn 恆春, far to the south—I checked out of the vintage homestay I lodged at the previous night, stopped at Eske Place Coffee House for a delicious and healthy vegetarian breakfast, changed into cycling wear, and exited the city to the east. I knew almost nothing about where I was headed or what I might see on the third day of my south Taiwan ride in 2015. I only had one stop planned in advance: a hospital in Cháozhōu 潮州 rumoured to be abandoned. I didn’t know it at the time but I would spend almost the entire day riding through the historic Hakka belt of Pingtung 屏東.

An Unexplored Hospital in Rural Pingtung

The back side of Dashun Hospital 大順醫院
Around back at an abandoned hospital in rural Pingtung.

Dàshùn General Hospital 大順綜合醫院 is a hulking ruin on the outskirts of Cháozhōu 潮州 in Taiwan 台灣. Abandoned almost a decade ago, it was not in business for very long before it closed due to corruption and mismanagement. There appears to be an ugly coda as well, for it was later the subject of an investment scam (see also: PTT).

Bespectacled

Vintage optometry kit
Vintage optometry kit at the Changhua Christian Hospital.

I found this vintage optometry kit inside a small museum attached to the Changhua Christian Hospital 彰化基督教醫院 (中文) in Changhua City 彰化市 while I was living there last winter. Originally founded in 1896, the hospital was the first of its kind in central Taiwan 台灣. Its history is inexorably linked with Dr. David Landsborough 蘭大衛, a Christian missionary doctor profiled at length in this in-depth article (see also here and here).

Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院

Exterior shot of Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院
Exterior shot of Xinglin General Hospital on Ximen Road, Tainan.

Xìnglín General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院 is the most famous ruin in downtown Tainan 台南. It opened for business in 1975 as the largest hospital in the city and catered to the burgeoning middle class during the boom times of the Taiwan Economic Miracle. In 1993 the hospital shut down after being plagued by a number of scandals involving fraudulent records, medical malpractice, and allegations of wrongful death.

Wufeng Minsheng Clinic 霧峰民生診所

Open for business
The entrance to the abandoned clinic. It looks like a group from the local university has written up their own schedule on the board outside.

On the way back from the 921 Earthquake Museum 九二一地震教育園區 in early 2014 I noticed an abandoned building at the side of the highway in rural Wùfēng 霧峰. Stopping to investigate, at first I assumed it must have once operated as a bǔxíbān 補習班, or cram school, a common feature of the social landscape here in Taiwan 台灣, but that initial hypothesis turned out to be completely wrong. Years later it was brought to my attention that this was originally Mínshēng Clinic 霧峰民生診所, the office of a country doctor by the name of Lín Péngfēi 林鵬飛. He passed away several years ago leading to the abandonment of the clinic but more recently it was purchased by local farmers and completely renovated and has reopened asa small museum and community center, the Wufeng Minsheng Story House 霧峰民生故事館.