Located by the waterside in the city of King's Rock
, the hospital known as the Rowe House of Healing was established to provide free, long-term healthcare for the sick and injured of Serukis
. It was originally constructed as a temple
to the Lord of Water, Nereus
, but found itself repurposed following the assassination of Joshuan Rowe
and the reformation
of the priesthood. The hospital was the first of its kind, and inspired the creation of others in the major towns and cities across the country.
The building was constructed more than eight hundred years ago in 4504 EA
, on the site of what was originally a small shrine to Nereus. The city of King's Rock had grown rapidly in the preceding century, especially in the latter half after the unification
of Serukis in 4463 EA when the city became the country's capital. With the swell in population and burgeoning diplomatic relationships, it became necessary and politically prudent for each of the five Lords
to have their own large temple in the city.
The temple was the home of up to - at its peak - forty priests
of Nereus, including those still in training
. It was the centre of the worship of Nereus in the city, hosting daily rituals, public services, and several annual festivals dedicated to the Lord. It also occasionally conducted funeral services
for those who consider Nereus to be their patron Lord.
During its operation as a temple, the building also served as a place of healing. The priests would charge money
for various healing services, which proved prohibitive to some who then had to go without help. These services included anything from the treatment of minor wounds to palliative care for the dying.
In 5133 EA, the temple became the home of a young boy named Joshuan Rowe who, it was claimed, recieved visions directly from Nereus himself. Taking advantage of the situation and the faith of those in the city, the priests of the temple began to charge visitors a silver
to visit and speak with the boy. Joshuan lived at the temple for four years, during which time he grew dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the corruption going on around him. He left the temple at the age of fourteen and instead set up in a brothel
. There, he quickly grew a following by offering daily sermons and free healing services to all comers.
After Joshuan Rowe's assassination in 5139 EA, it was quickly discovered that the senior priests at the temple were behind the plot. The outrage that followed sparked a reformation of the temples and priesthood of Nereus, following the tenets laid down by Joshuan before his death - especially the most important, 'healing is free'. The reformation started in King's Rock and spread rapidly throughout Serukis. Though the new ideas met with some resistance from older, more traditional priests, it was embraced by most. By 5141 EA, all healing offered by temples of Nereus was free across the country.
It was felt to be poor taste for the temple in King's Rock itself to keep operating as a temple, so a new, smaller temple was constructed nearby for the remaining priests to live in. The old temple building was converted into a hospital known as the Rowe House of Healing, named after Joshuan Rowe himself. This was in order to increase the capacity for free healing services in the city. Within a year, the hospital was employing secular healers to enable the priesthood to cope with the new demands. Following this, the conversion of temples to hospitals in cities and large towns spread across Serukis, to bring healing services to all that needed them.
The Rowe House of Healing is primary constructed of blocks of light grey granite
, a stone
chosen for its non-porous qualities. It is a relatively large square building with two storeys. The ground floor is comprised of two large rooms that split the building in two - the entrance hall and the ward. The first floor is the same size as the ground floor, but is made up of several long corridors with mutiple small rooms leading off from them. These are the private rooms reserved for extremely infectious patients.
The entrance hall is a large, open room with a wide round shallow pool in its centre. This room has multiple functions. The first is as a reception room, where healers triage patients and assess their needs. The second is as an area to treat minor wounds and illnesses, and to give advice and counsel to worried visitors. The third is as a waiting area, where relatives can sit in quiet reflection before they visit their loved ones.
The pool is made of dark marble
and is as reflective and still as a mirror. Although healing services are free in the House of Healing, visitors will often toss offerings to Nereus into the pool as gratitude or as a plea. These offerings can include shells, pebbles, or coins. Offerings are collected by the priests at the end of every month and taken to the temple to be housed with other tributes.
The ward caters to those whose illnesses or injuries cannot be cared for at home, though care at home is something that is generally preferred by both patient and healer. It is a large rectangular room containing three long rows of beds. Two large stained glass
windows depicting ocean waves are located on the shorter walls, casting soothing blue shadows across the beds closest to them.
Heavy wooden screens have been constructed to separate the ward into two square areas. They have been placed either side of the central door that is the entrance to the ward and create a corridor between the two. The left area is devoted to the care of women and children, whilst the right area deals with the treatment of men. Discussions have been had about building thicker, more permanent walls between the two, but as of yet no one has agreed to fund the cost.
In each area, there is a curtained off section that functions as a toilet. There are no bathing facilities, though patients are offered a wash basin and cloth at their bedside a few times a week. Those who are unable to clean themselves or mobilise to the toilets are assisted by healers with their personal hygiene and care at least once a week. Bedpans or chamberpots for these patients are emptied twice daily.
There are thirty private rooms at the Rowe House of Healing, which are used to care for patients with infectious or disturbing conditions. Each room has a small square window, a bed, and a chamber pot. The doors to these rooms are fitted with locks, which are usually only used if the patient is exhibiting frightening or dangerous behaviour, or if an infectious patient has a habit of wandering.
Two rooms on the first floor that have not been turned into private rooms for patients are utilised for storage of hospital or medical supplies. These rooms are kept locked, with the key safely in the custody of whoever is the senior priest on a given day. One room contains supplies such as linen, bandages, wash cloths and a selection of basic clean clothes. The other contains medical supplies, such as surgical tools and medication.
The final room on the first floor is also the biggest, as it used to be the chambers of the high priest
. It is, somewhat controversially, used for surgical procedures. It is the one room in the hospital that the priests refuse to step into, and is purely a domain of the secular healers. Whilst priests do their healing through a mixture of magic
, the other healers are keen to expand their scientific knowledge and attempt to legitimise techniques formally practiced only by the Butchers
Prior to the House of Healing being established, the city of King's Rock had quite a large problem with Butchers, untrained and unscrupulous healers who would undercut the temple's prices in order to lure in business. Butchers shunned traditional healing and prayer, and instead competed amongst themselves for novel ways to cure ills. Following the introduction of free healing, only the desperate - those who the legitimate healers had been unable to help - risked a visit with the Butchers.
The Rowe House of Healing prides itself on being a centre of medical learning, both in traditional methods of healing and for the furthering of new techniques and cures. Aspiring healers are invited to watch live demonstrations of surgeries and other procedures to learn how to replicate these and also to learn more about anatomy. It has been argued that anatomical dissections of corpses would further the Seruic understanding of the body, but this is currently illegal
Healers have also been in preliminary talks with surgeons
from the medical universities
; it is their hope that the surgeons would come to share their knowledge with the Seruic
healers, or that Seruic healers would be allowed to go to study in Kaien. However, due to the current political unrest
in Kaien this has not yet been possible.
Following the fact that it was created following the reformation of Nereus's priesthood, the existence of hospitals such as the Rowe House of Healing has had a profound effect on the worship of the Lord of Water. The tenets of Joshuan Rowe have become an integral part of the religion, especially the call to make healing free for all. Any priest of Nereus found to be violating this and charging for his services will be sent to work in one of the city hospitals for anything from three months to a year. It is hoped this will allow them to rediscover their calling and the importance of their work.