History of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals
The establishment of TWGHs could be traced back to Kwong Fook I-tsz, a small temple built at Tai Ping Shan Street on the Hong Kong Island in 1851 for people to house the spirit-tablets of their ancestors. As the temple was gradually taken by the sick and the destitute as a refuge, it became reeked with dirt and eventually aroused the concern of the Government and the public. Hence, a group of earnest Chinese community leaders proposed to raise funds and build a hospital in the neighbourhood. In 1869, $115,000 and a piece of land at Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan were granted by the then Governor MacDonnell. The first Chinese hospital in Hong Kong was finally built in 1870 through the enactment of the Tung Wah Hospital Ordinance. Prior to the establishment of the hospital, a temporary clinic was set up by the founding Directors near the hospital premises to offer free medical treatment to those in need. The hospital, named “Tung Wah Hospital”, was constructed in 1872 and started to provide free Chinese medicine services to the sick and the poor. It hence laid a foundation of the charitable work of TWGHs. To meet the imperative demand for medical services resulting from the rapid growth of population, Kwong Wah Hospital in Yaumatei, Kowloon and Tung Wah Eastern Hospital in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong were built and commenced operation in 1911 and 1929 respectively. In 1931, the 3 hospitals were amalgamated into the “Tung Wah Group of Hospitals” under the management of one Board of Directors.
Apart from medical care, TWGHs had been offering various social welfare and education services ever since its beginnings. When the hospital buildings were being constructed, remains were found on the site. A cemetery was then built by the founding Directors to re-bury those remains near the Slaughter House at Kennedy Town which started the Group’s provision of community services. It also started the immediate provision of alms to the needy. It provided assistance to victims whenever there were disasters, and even extended its relief work to mainland China. In 1880, TWGHs started its first free school at the Chung Wah College adjacent to Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road with the donation income of the temple used to provide free education to the poor. In 1941, with the outbreak of the Pacific War, TWGHs insisted to provide limited medical services in Tung Wah Hospital and Kwong Wah Hospital. It also helped undertake rebuilding work including repatriation of refugees, provision of free food and clothing, taking care of the wounded and burying the dead. Medical services of TWGHs were resumed after the war. In the 1950s and 1960s, TWGHs further established primary and secondary schools and embarked on the development of formal and systematic social welfare services.
With gradual evolution over the past hundred years, TWGHs has now developed into a well-established charitable organization in Hong Kong with a huge recurrent expenditure largely subvented by the Government and only a small portion covered by service users. As TWGHs needs to shoulder the shortfall in funding as well as the cost for developing new services by raising funds from the public, holding fund-raising activities has become imperative to sustain the financial well-being of the Group. To serve the community better, TWGHs will continue to dedicate its efforts in providing diversified and high quality services for the people of Hong Kong in the years to come.