I was born in Assunta Hospital at 1.27 pm on 8 June 1981. Exactly 32 years ago, I weighed 2.975 kg, and was greeted by a Datuk Dr. R. Menon, an obstetrics and gynaecologist who happened to deliver most of the babies born then at Petaling Jaya until his retirement just back in February 2013. I missed photographing him by a couple of months. Oh well. I will definitely be meeting and photographing him one day.
The hospital has since undergone several renovations and is purportedly the only hospital in Malaysia which still harbors a number of age-old artifacts. I thought it fitting to return and photo document all the people, places and objects which have existed during the time I was born 32 years ago. Hopefully, this body of work will call into attention the need to preserve these many items that carry with them significant historical and sentimental value.
This collection of pictures also showcases a number of staffs who have worked at Assunta hospital during my birth in 1981, and are still now dedicatedly serving! One of the nurses even commented that she must have bathed me naked back then! As such, this goes to show the level of commitment and passion these staff demonstrate of their more than 3 decades employment at Assunta Hospital. It’s truly a remarkable piece of knowledge, at least to me.
Here are some pictures of the extremely old furniture found in the Physiotherapy Department of Assunta Hospital (I was also showing them to my physiotherapist in Winnipeg).
The following pictures depict the remaining original and preserved sections of the hospital.
Here are some different takes of the unique stained glass window depicting a mother cradling her child.
Here are two really old baby cots found outside the Marketing & Communications Office, currently being used to store medical records and files.
I was told that I was most likely born in this room; the old delivery ward, now a converted Nursing Office.
These are the many furniture pieces, fixtures and various rooms found in the old delivery ward, one of which is a pantry now.
Later, my guide brought me to the Milk Room next to Nursery and managed to unearth these old artifacts used to keep milk warm, quite possibly from during my birth if not much older.
I call this series of pictures “The Familiar Stranger: 32 Summers Later“, to celebrate my 32nd birthday. It invites viewers to explore their very own familiar strangers within, whether be they objects or places of significance that have existed since their birth or faint memories of long-forgotten moments that mean something to anyone. These pictures serve to remind us of the power of perseverance and the wonders of life through a journey of time.
These pictures encourage us to review things in life which are somewhat familiar but may appear as total strangers to us. They are vaguely recognisable as something of great significance but yet, totally disconnected from us. Items that may be close to heart but yet appear detached from our existence as we go about our daily lives well into the years. It’s truly amazing the level of retrospection a highly characteristic hospital such as Assunta commands in its six decades of service.
It took me 3 separate visits over 3 weeks to capture all these pictures as I needed to coincide my timing with the schedule of some of the staff. All the photographs of interior and objects were shot steadily hand held with ambient-only lighting in favour of speed and convenience, though a tripod (which was with me) would have helped but delayed my progress. However, the photographs of the long-service employees (and Ravi next to his motorcycle) were shot in a 2-speed lights setup against an off-white wall.
Assunta Hospital was founded by a group of missionaries from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) in 1954. Today, after 59 years, Assunta Hospital continues its commitment of practising good clinical governance by providing high quality and safe healthcare delivery.
The now modern 344-bed hospital has undergone numerous minor and major renovations over the years and has earned itself the reputation of being a technologically advanced specialist hospital. It is empowered with a panel of over 100 commendable specialists, covering a wide range of specialties and subspecialties such as interventional cardiology, open heart surgery, orthopaedics, general surgery for both adult and paediatrics, internal medicine, nephrology, urology, ENT, obstetrics and gynaecology.
The most interesting place has got to be the Nursery at Matsushita Ward. The real hero piece of this “treasure hunt”, besides the many old baby cots still in use, is the old Phototherapy machine dating as far back as 1979.
In comparison, this is a modern day Phototherapy machine being used at the Nursery in Assunta Hospital.
Here are the “ancient” bassinets. The one in black is a modern day piece.
Lastly, these basins have been used to bathe babies at the Nursery since my birth. I was very likely bathed in one of these. Also seen at the foreground of this basin station is a multipurpose trolley dating as far back as the late 70s.
I’ve got the really cool and helpful folks from the Marketing & Communications Department to thank for in making this project every bit as successful and smooth going for me. Without them, this wouldn’t have come to fruition. I truly am grateful for their kind understanding in seeing the value of this documentation. It’s always a great feeling to be working with creative and like-minded people.
Assunta Hospital has definitely come a long way and will continue to impress upon the lives of many for generations to come. As an iconic landmark in Petaling Jaya, its many age-old inhabitants will continue to find refuge and identity in a hospital like no other.