History Behind

Four decades ago when Bro. Fortunatus Thanhauser came to Kattappana the whole High range of the present Idukki district in Kerala was still a very remote area. The nearest hospital was 110 KM away. Patients could not be transported there in time due to lack of proper roads. Most of the serious patients died on the way. Malaria also took the lives of many.

The Vincent de Paul Society and the Franciscan Clarist Sisters of Kattappana were trying their best to start at least a small dispensary. Knowing the situation Mar Mathew Kavukatt, the Archbishop of Changanassery, invited Bro. Fortunatus Thanhauser “fromGermany, and Kattappana was selected as the suitable place for the foundation. The Archbishop entrusted Fr. Joseph Meprakarott, the parish priest of Kattappana, with the responsibility to take the necessary steps.

A Humble Beginning

Temporary Dispensary

With the help of the Brothers inGermanyFr. Joseph bought a plot of land for the Brothers, in 1967, at Kumbukkal, near the parish church, and a dispensary was started on 8 December 1968. The temporary dispensary was necessary to get the import license for the hospital equipment provided from Germany, and to get visa for the German Brothers (given only for an existing hospital). Dr. Xavier Kurian Mappilasserry, who visited the dispensary thrice a week fromSt. Augustine’s Hospital at Kumily and five Sisters of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation were attending to the needs of the patients. Later the facility was shifted to a new building with 18 beds, where very often 30-40 patients had to be admitted.

Laying of the Foundation Stone

Later the parish priest arranged for the purchase of more land, where the present hospital is situated, and took all necessary steps for the construction of a hospital. Finally, the foundation stone for the new hospital was laid by Mar Mathew Kavukatt, the Archbishop of Changanassery, on 27 June 1968.

A Milestone: St. John's Hospital

The first building of the present St. John’s Hospital, the A-Block, with 60 beds, was inaugurated on February 1971. Twenty-two patients were shifted to the hospital from the temporary dispensary at Kumbukkal. An 8-year-old boy was the first patient. There were 3 doctors, 3 Brothers as nurses, 9 Sisters from the Clarist Convent and one lay auxiliary nurse.

The hospital was very successful from the first day. The very next day, on 2 February, the first child was born and the following day he was baptized as ‘John of God’. On the second day itself the number of in-patients increased to 40 and the following day the available iron beds became insufficient and wooden cots were brought in from the dispensary.

Initial Difficulties

The pioneers had to overcome extremely difficult situations. There was no electricity in the area, and telephone service too was unheard of. In the early 70’s there was a severe scarcity of cement which delayed the construction process. They were also hard-pressed for the necessary funds to procure hospital equipment and facilities. In spite of all these adversities, the hospital flourished and could render modern medical care to a large section of the population as evidenced by the statistics for a typical year:

The first building of the presentSt. John’sHospital, the A-Block, with 60 beds, was inaugurated on 1 February 1971.

The B-Block was completed and blessed on 1 June1975 by the Archbishop of Changanassery. The C-Block, (ground floor: the present Paediatric Ward/Male Medical, & first floor: present Male Surgical/Ophthalmic O.T. Section) was completed in September 1976 and patients were shifted to it. But the official blessing took place only on 8 February 1977, by Mar Joseph Powathil, the Auxiliary bishop of Changanassery.

The Eye Block comprising the OPD and wards, r the construction of which was funded by Christoffel : Blinden Mission (CBM), was inaugurated on 28 . February 1988 by CBM Regional Representative, Dr. Julius Karunakaran.

The Cardiology Block was blessed by Mar Mathew Vattakuzhy, Bishop of Kanjirapally, and inaugurated by Sri. V.T. Sebastian, on 28 March 1993.

The St. Joseph’s Block was inaugurated by Bro. Andreas Hellermann on 5 September 1999.

The blessing and laying of the foundation stone of Christu Jayanthi Memorial Block was on 4 January 1999. On 16 February 2001 the new block was blessed by Mar. Mathew Vattakuzhi, Bishop of Kanjirapally and inaugurated by Dr. Cyriac Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, during a colourful function attended by local and visiting dignitaries. (The block houses the General OT Complex with centralised AC and gas supply, the Department of Radiology, the Laboratories, Cental Sterilization and other ancillary facilities).


St. John’s Hospital at Kattappana after 50 years of its establishment, is the main hospital in the High-range. It is a 450-bed, multi-speciality hospital having state-of-the-art facilities, serving as a tertiary care and referral centre for the whole of Idukki district and the adjoining places of Theni district of the state of Tamil Nadu.