Clinic really floats his boat

Updated: 2012-04-27 07:25

By Ma Chenguang in Lu'an, Anhui (China Daily)

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A boathouse anchored in a sparkling lake surrounded by mountains. Sounds like a wonderful place to set up a medical clinic?

"My clinic, simple as it is, is essential to my fellow villagers," said Yu Jiajun while bandaging a wound for a woman he kindly refers to as "Granny Li".

His boat clinic, moored on the 1,400-square-kilometer Xianghongdian Reservoir in Lu'an, Anhui province, saves local villagers on the reservoir's several islands from spending two hours on a boat and another hour on foot to get to the nearest hospital.

Clinic really floats his boat

Yu Jiajun bandages a wound for a woman he kindly refers to as "Granny Li" in his boat clinic in Lu'an, Anhui province. Photos by Sun Lingjuan / for China Daily

The idyllic setting has been home to Yu, 34, his wife and their two children for the past 12 years.

They set up the clinic soon after he graduated from medical school in 2000.

Part of the impetus was also personal, as Yu's father missed the best window of opportunity to cure his cancer due to distances involved.

"My father might not have died had there been a doctor," Yu said emotionally.

"And there was also a young man in our village who was bitten by a snake. He also died because he couldn't get treatment in time. Since then, I made up my mind to be a doctor."

During the past 12 years, Yu has visited almost all the 500 families scattered on the islands, providing medical services mostly for the aged and the young.

"He is a good man and a good doctor as well," said "Granny Li", whose children, like many others in the area, have all left for work in the cities, making her rely on Yu for care and other daily necessities.

"Without him, it would be a lot of trouble for us to see a doctor. We like him, trust him and are grateful for him," she continued with tears shining in her eyes.

"He never asks for one extra penny any time he visits a patient," said Yu Jiahong, a local villager.

Yu Jiajun and his wife seldom leave the boat in case there is an emergency.

Clinic really floats his boat

Yu Jiajun stands with his wife and youngest son on their boat clinic, which is also their home. Photos by Sun Lingjuan / for China Daily

His wife shops in town around noon when fewer patients are expected, and washes clothes in their narrow shack while their young children play nearby.

"But sometimes villagers bring us some vegetables and meat when we are too busy," Yu said.

But he has no intention of leaving the boat clinic, rejecting job offers of higher pay in the cities.

"I hope my father's tragedy will never happen to other villagers. As long as the villagers need me, I will keep on doing the job and never leave them behind," Yu said.

Liu Lili in Lu'an contributed to this story.

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