“WITH THE Love of God, Free Humankind from Disease and Suffering.” The spirit of Yonsei’s Severance Hospital envelops you as soon as you step your foot into the building. Two volunteers, standing with a cart full of barley tea, welcome you at the main entrance. Their job is to give out free drinks to anyone in the hospital: patients, families, visitors, doctors, nurses, office workers, and even the occasional passerby. Though small, this cup of cold tea hydrates and refreshes the users of the hospital, sharing “the Love of God” through this modest gesture. By the entrance, a wish tree immediately catches the eye with hundreds of colorful wishes attached to its branches. Accordingly, the hospital selects one wish annually and provides financial support to help realize that wish. Yet these charity placements and events are not the only points in which we can experience Severance’s slogan, “the Love of God.” Various hospital facilities, though static, innately capture and convey the warm-hearted and deep compassion of the hospital. The Yonsei Annals will give you a tour of the Severance Hospital, guiding your way towards care, consideration, and love.
Just outside the entrance of the Woori Lounge sits an antique-looking clock, marking a stark contrast to the modern design of the Severance Hospital. Allen’s clock, standing 4.72 meters tall and weighing 377 kilograms, has become an iconic landmark of the Severance Hospital. Despite its inspiration from the humble pocket watch used by Dr. Horace Newton Allen, Allen’s clock is in fact equipped with cutting-edge technology: the clock has been installed with an automated time-correcting mechanism that receives transmissions from GPS satellites. Allen’s clock also indicates the year of the hospital’s birth, when Che-jung-won* was created by Dr. Allen in 1885. Allen’s clock towers right outside the Severance Hospital, representing the very identity of the facility—a leading, top-tier hospital that continuously carries on its history, legacy, and responsibility.
The Woori Lounge
Just a few steps away from the main entrance of the Main Building, an indoor forest, thick with tropical trees, offer a refreshing sight to those who are in need of a change of scenery. This verdant display marks the entrance to one of Severance’s most well-built facilities: the Woori Lounge. The Woori Lounge, the renovation of which was completed in July 2016, consists of four different sections: the tropical indoor forest, art center, performing stage, and history house.
The Healing Garden
The tropical garden in the Woori Lounge, named the Healing Garden, imbues the hospital’s visitors and patients with vitality with its scent of nature. In the pathway that weaves through the trees, benches are gently placed along the path to provide people with places to relax. Some are on wheelchairs, others walk. Some are adults, others are children. Despite the differences, all users discover the same sense of belonging while walking through the garden and enjoying the tranquil peace of the organic setting. Rays of sunlight softly penetrate the glass walls of the garden, reinvigorating those who visit the garden. Especially for patients who are unable of experiencing the outdoor nature, the Severance Hospital provides an essential service with this indoor garden. In addition, a recent change implemented stricter controls in the wards, restricting the visiting hours. Therefore, the Healing Garden has become a must-visit venue to drop by and spend time with loved ones.
The Art Space
While the Garden offers a sense of organic tranquility, the Art Space across the garden provides a chance of cultural engagement for the patients. Once located in the Main Building, the Art Space was moved to the lounge after the renovation in 2014. With a similar purpose to the Healing Garden, the Art Space also provides entertainment for the patients. Behind the white walls of the gallery, there exists a small area that is decorated with several pieces of artworks. This private area blocks away the frantic atmosphere of a hospital and enraptures its visitors with an illusion and makes them feel as if they are in an art gallery. Accordingly, the exhibitions change on a regular basis to ensure maximum diversity and satisfaction, something that many patients are not able to experience in an ordinary hospital environment.
The performance hall
Severance Hospital also provides the patients and the visitors with a performance hall that regularly hosts a range of performances to offer delightful experiences for those seeking pleasant distractions from the bustling atmosphere of the hospital. The performance hall has a capacity of 60 seats, and the stage is offered at a free cost to those who have the passion to display their talents to the users of the hospital. Patients and the visitors can freely enjoy the wide spectrum of performing arts at an average frequency of twice a week. Piano In Yonsei, a student club of piano enthusiasts from Yonsei University, is also one of the performance groups that volunteer at the performance hall to share their music. Listening to the soothing melody of Mozart’s “Sonata” while being surrounded by the greeneries of the Healing Garden, visitors are able to realize that the renowned reputation of the Severance Hospital is not only due to its exemplary medical services, but also due to its humanistic touches: its efforts to shower the patients and visitors with memorable experiences that make their daily lives at the hospital more eventful.
The history hall
The Severance Hospital, as we know it now, would not have existed without the long course of history behind it. The mission of the Severance Hospital, “With the Love of God, Free Humankind from Disease and Suffering,” was inspired by the spirit of Dr. Horace Newton Allen, the doctor who willingly devoted his life to introducing modern medical practices for the ill and the impoverished during the Jo-seon dynasty. The Allen Memorial Hall also provides the patients and the visitors with the opportunities to have a glimpse of the life of Dr. Allen, the figure behind the establishment of the Che-jung-won—the first westernized hospital of Korea established in 1885. The Allen Memorial Hall exhibits several historical archives as well as the Doctor’s personal possessions that explain the background behind the establishment of the Che-jung-won. Visitors also have the opportunity to learn the various hallmarks of Dr. Allen’s service during the Jo-seon dynasty, making the Severance Hospital a place of learning. The history hall serves as a reminder to the staff and members of the Severance Hospital to preserve and maintain the humanitarian vision of Dr. Allen.
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Uneasiness is a common sentiment many feel when entering a hospital; many patients and loved ones are filled with worry and concern. However, the atmosphere of the Severance Hospital finds a way to comfort visitors from the moment they walk in. The facilities themselves were built with the intention of caring for patients, even when they are not being personally attended to. It is this care, to build beyond white walls and concrete blocks, that makes Severance an institution that fully embodies humanitarianism.
*Che-jung-won: former name of the Severance Hospital