What started off as a hospital in the 1960s in eastern China’s Wuyi County has, over the years, transformed into a self-sufficient commune where patients and their families live with the medical staff in perfect harmony. 36 patients have made Yangjia Hospital their permanent residence, working alongside their family members to grow their own crops and cook their own food, while receiving medical treatment for their illnesses.
The hospital was founded nearly five decades ago by the state-run Dongying quarrying company for its workers, who ended up with an occupational lung disease known as pneumoconiosis. When the company went bankrupt in 2000, the local government took over its administration and continued to pay the doctors and staff. But funds were tight and many of the 400-odd patients ended up moving to other hospitals. The number of patients continued to dwindle until only 36 remained. Some of their family members live with them, at an additional cost of 6 yuan ($1) per night.