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LATIN AMERICA
Published in September, 2019
H E K T O R A M A

 

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AFRICAN AMERICAN MEDICAL PIONEERS

The first hospital in the Americas was built by Fray Nicolás de Ovando from 1503 to 1508 in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti). Named Hospital de San Nicolás de Bari (I), it was located in Santo Domingo de Guzmán. Its personnel included a medical director, an agent, an internist, a chaplain, and six servants.1 Nowadays, the remains of this facility are the silent witnesses of its past and of the attention of Spain to healthcare in the colonies.

 

By Marco Antonio Ayala-Garcia

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DANIEL CARRION AND HIS DISEASE
 

 


 

The chronic disease, verruga peruana, may well have existed since pre-Columbian days, as shown by wart-like lesions depicted on ancient Inca artifacts.1 It is essentially a cutaneous disease consisting of multiple vascular nodular eruptions on the skin and mucous membranes, sometimes accompanied by fever and joint pains. The acute disease, Oroya fever, is a severe illness with fever, hemolytic anemia, and microvascular thrombosis. It may affect different systems of the body and variously manifest itself as seizures, menigoencephalitis, jaundice, gastrointestinal involvement, or angina.

 

By George DuneaREAD ARTICLE

 

THE VAN BUREN HOSPITAL IN THE HISTORY OF CHILE
Van Buren Hospital post 1906 earthquake.

 

 

 

In the sixteenth century Valparaiso was a small village with a few hundred inhabitants. Despite this, it was the principal port of the Kingdom of Chile, where ships from Europe arrived after the long and dangerous passage around Cape Horn. In this port ships took on food and water. The village had no hospital, but despite this it received those who had become ill on the voyage. In 1786 King Charles III of Spain issued a royal proclamation ordering “the erection of a hospital in the Port of Valparaiso under the care of the Religious Order of San Juan de Dios.”1 In the founding charter it was established that the soldiers of the garrison and the crews of the merchant ships should pay for their hospital care, and that only if resources were sufficient could women also be treated. It was only after 1836 that the hospital began to accept women as patients.

By Carlos Astudillo

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A LESSON IN HORIZONTALITY: A HOSPITAL SAN VICENTE DE PAUL IN MEDELLIN, COLUMBIA

 

 

The Hospital San Vicente de Paúl in Medellin, Colombia was built in 1913 to serve the need of the growing township and its working class. It was built in the outskirts of the city, to facilitate the intrinsic connection between the farmers in the hills, which still come to trade during the day to Medellin and the laborers from the surrounding factories and industries. Many of its patients came because of work-related injuries: suturing finger by finger, machete slash after machete slash, and in the most definitive and mournful of situations, an amputation. Perhaps the initial need it served eventually made the institution one of the most celebrated transplant centers in Colombia and Latin America: “Sic Parvis Magna,” as Francis Drake, who knew his fare share of lacerations during his life at sea, would have said. Within the accolades of El Hospital is the first simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplantation, as well as the first heart, and lung transplant in Colombia.1

By Moisés Enghelberg

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GORGAS HOSPITAL, ANCON, PANAMA

 

 

 

A man, a plan, a canal: Panama. This well-known palindrome describes the grand vision of Count Ferdinand de Lesseps for constructing, under the flag of France, a sea level canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the late nineteenth century.  Despite the best efforts of the French, the plan for a canal was abandoned, only to be revived by a team of American engineers who, with the support of a large workforce, created a successful path between the seas by 1914.  Working somewhat behind the scenes but of equal importance were Dr. William Crawford Gorgas and his dedicated public health team who helped assure that tropical diseases would not prevent the completion of the grand project.  Part of that effort was mobilized through the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who served at the main hospital on the isthmus later named in honor of Gorgas.

The hospital was not originated by Dr. Gorgas, however.  Shortly after the arrival of Count de Lesseps in 1881, a small temporary medical facility called Strangers Hospital was built on the upper slope of Ancon Hill, near Panama City.  It was replaced in 1882 by a much larger facility to serve the sick and injured employees of the French Canal Company.  Constructed on the lower slope of the hill, the 700 bed L’Hopital Central du Panama was dedicated during a Pontifical Mass on September 17 of that year.

 

By W. Paul McKinney

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RENE FAVALORO

 

Dr. René Favaloro pioneered a new era in the management of coronary artery disease. Up to the 1960s the primary focus of cardiology was valvular heart disease. However with the introduction of penicillin the incidence of valvular heart disease was diminishing, and the cardiologists’ attention was turning to acute myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease. The diagnosis of these conditions was at times mystical, the only objective evidence of myocardial infarction being the EKG abnormalities. The diagnosis of angina was subjective, as was its management.

 

By Earl C. SmithREAD ARTICLE
 

HOSPITAL MUNICIPAL SEBASTIAO MARTIN ALVES, LENCOIS, BAHIA

 

Hospital Municipal Sebastião Martins Alves is not a historically significant hospital. It is not well equipped, nor particularly clean (though it is not particularly dirty, either). It is not well staffed, nor is it on the cutting edge of any medical advances. (There are few cutting edges at all in Hospital Municipal Sebastião Martins Alves, and if there are, you probably want to avoid them.) But the hospital in the little town of Lençóis in the Chapada Diamantina region of Northeast Brazil is of utmost significance to the residents of the area, and in many ways symptomatic of much what ails the health care system in Brazil.

 

By Eleanor Stanford

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ART, CRISTOBAL ROJAS, AND TUBERCULOSIS: A LATIN AMERICAN CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

 

 

Tuberculosis, the “captain of all these men of death,” has devastated diverse societies for thousands of years. How are experiences related to this unforgiving and seemingly insatiable disease made unique by their cultural contexts? The visual arts provide a record of this disease as it relates to specific cultures. Venezuelan artist Cristóbal Rojas Poleo (1858-1890) captured the depth of familial pain caused by consumption, which cut short his own life. While surrounded by the shadow of death Rojas painted a cultural response to tuberculosis, portraying familial intimacy, nurturing care, and shared faith—all themes specific to Latin America. More than a century later, Rojas’ response to his illness seem to transcend his era and exemplify timeless aspects of Latino culture.

 

 

By Maria S. Landaeta, Aldo L. Schenone, & Gregory W. Rutecki

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