American Board Mission: Mount Selinda Mission – Medical Department

Mount Selinda Mission

Medical Department

Medical work began at Mount Selinda in the mission’s first year with the opening of a dispensary by Dr. W. L Thompson in 1893.  It was the first permanent missionary medical mission staffed by a medical doctor in Southern Rhodesia.  The dispensary became a full-fledged hospital in 1912.  Dr. Willis H. Willis, who succeeded Dr. Thompson, began a three-year training course for African nurses in 1930 with seven initial nursing students.

In the mid-1930’s, the hospital received a generous gift from Dr. Willis F. Pierce which made possible a much needed addition to hospital.  It was renamed the “William F. Pierce Memorial Hospital” in his honor.  Between 1930 and 1936, in-patients treated as the hospital grew from 96 to 858, including 57 surgical operations.  There were another 1,689 out patients in that year.

In addition to Doctors Thompson and Willis, other missionary medical staff includes Dr. William T. Lawrence (served at both Mount Selinda and Chikore); Minnie A. Tontz (later Mrs. Lawrence, nurse); Gertrude H. Merrill (nurse); Theresa R. Buck, R.N., (at both Mount Selinda and Chikore); Dr. Victor Master (1948-51); Dr. Kirk Stetson (1956-73); Dr. Donaldson (1958-61); Dr. Alma Cooke (1958-61); Dr. Almarose Cooke (later Mrs. Gordon Wordon); and Dr. Selwyn Spray (deported in 1976 for aiding “African Freedom Fighters”).  The first African doctor joined the hospital in 1982.

Today, Mount Selinda’s medical facilities consist of the Mount Selinda Hospital and School of Nursing.


  • Mark Loomis