Turkey’s first pandemic hospital to be Islamic education center
Turkey’s first pandemic hospital has been given to the country’s top state religious body (Diyanet) to be used as an Islamic education center, daily Hürriyet reported.
The Heybeliada Sanitorium, located on one of the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul’s coast in the Marmara Sea, will be turned over the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate, along with the 200 acres of land that surrounds the facility, according to the report.
Intertwined with nature and with a perfect view, the facility, which focused on battling tuberculosis, was opened in 1924, on the orders of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
Built on the model of a sanatorium in Switzerland on a hill overlooking the Çam (Pine) Harbor on the south side of the island, the hospital has been shown as a touchstone in the country’s fight against tuberculosis for many years.
In the sanatorium, which also had a rehabilitation center in the early years of the Turkish Republic, courses such as shoemaking, hosiery, photography, sculpting, and watchmaking were given to patients by the masters.
However, the Health Ministry shut down the 660-bed capacity sanatorium due to the difficulty of access by sea and the lack of sufficient patients in 2005, and the building has been idle since then.
Another reason for the closure was the fact that the hospital, whose roof was damaged and the chimneys were destroyed during the 1999 Marmara Earthquake, temporarily served in its garden in the forest.
Despite some comments that were expressed on social media outlets about the fate of the sanatorium, the transfer process was confirmed after a response of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Umut Oran’s application to CİMER (Presidential Communication Center).
“It does not suit our national interests to shut down this hospital, which for 80 years served the Turkish nation, specializing in pulmonary and thoracic surgery,” Umut Oran said.
The Istanbul Medical Chamber also reacted to the transfer decision with a written statement.
“Despite all our objections, it is unacceptable that the country’s first pandemic hospital and 200 decares of land, which were closed to decay in 2005, were transferred to Diyanet in order to establish an Islamic Education Center,” read the statement.
Two new pandemic hospitals in nearby Istanbul area have been assigned to battle the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.
In May, a hospital was built on a runway of Atatürk Airport, which was once the transportation hub of Istanbul within the scope of COVID-19 measures.