Dr. Somervell, the surgeon-turned-missionary was a legend in Kanyakumari district, where he worked with the South Travancore Medical Mission Hospital in Neyyoor, rendering unrivalled medical service to the people for over two decades ( 1922 -1954). Dr. Somervell first came to Neyyoor in 1922, accepting an invitation from Dr Pugh, who was already working in the hospital. He lived with the poor illiterate people of the area – treating them and educating them. Hundreds of surgeries were performed every week .In those days of Cholera and Malaria, he worked with the community from Neyyoor. He extended his services to other hospitals under LMS especially at Karakonam hospital and the people around also had the good fortune to benefit from his skills, kindness and devotion to humanity.
Somervell (1890-1975) set up an X-ray unit in the Neyyoor hospital, introduced radium treatment for cancer, a first-of-its-kind in the country, performed hundreds of surgeries in a month, travelled to every village when cholera and malaria broke out in South Travancore. He was also instrumental in setting up an exclusive hospital for the treatment of leprosy patients in Colachel in Kanyakumari district. Later writing about his decision to work in Neyyoor, Dr. Somervell said: “Had I not then gone to India at the call of suffering, I could never have dared to look God in the face nor to say prayers to him again.”
It was no wonder that the South Kerala Diocese wanted to express their affection and respect to Dr. Somervell by making a monument in his name. When the Karakonam hospital which was a 6 bedded dispensary was taken over by the Diocese, the historical decision to name it after Dr. T H Somervell was taken. The hospital was named as Dr.Somervell Memorial Hospital.
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