Entrance to one of the McKean Rehabilitation Center's five villages on Koh Klang, south of Chiang Mai. We visited here on SpiceRoads Cycle Tours' half-day Chiang Mai Highlights itinerary. (Brian K. Smith photo.)
The McKean Rehabilitation Center originally opened as the Chiang Mai Leper Asylum in 1908 to care for leprosy sufferers cast out from their families and villages. It was established by an American Presbyterian missionary, Dr. James McKean, after Prince Inthwarorot Suriyawong of Chiang Mai granted him use of the former royal elephant corral on Koh Klang Island. Over the next 30 years, five villages were developed on the site's 138 acres, along with a hospital, clinics, hostels, water tower, recreation hall, vocational training centre, and a church. Once leprosy sufferers were treated and rehabilitated, many were transferred to one of 22 resettlement villages established by McKean throughout northern Thailand.
By the early 1980s, all leprosy colony residents had been rehabilitated back into community life or resettled in their own village for the elderly disabled. McKean's focus then changed and it became an extended rehabilitation centre for all disabled people. And in 2009, they opened the Dok Kaew Gardens retirement home, accepting both Thais and resident foreigners.
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