100 Years of Medical
History in Cárdenas, 1860-1960

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Cuba's people are intelligent, able and quick to absorb modern knowledge; her business men are shrewd and capable, her doctors and surgeons among the best in the world, her architects bold and imaginative.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Report on Cuba, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1951, p.5

The subject of medicine, in the same way as education, has been manipulated by the Castro brothers'regime in such a way as to have brought the world to, unquestioningly and repeatedly, proclaim it as one of "one of the achievements of Castro's Revolutión." Contrary to what the Castros want the world to "understand," medicine in Cuba in the years prior to that revolution had reached great heights in professionalism that was available to all of the population. As you will be able to see in the following article, Cárdenas enjoyed excelent medical care, that had been developing for an entire century, before falling into the "deterioration dressed to look like advancement" in which the islands health care system finds itself today. Although Cuban doctors remain brilliant, the quality of service they can deliver to the population today is horrible, given the government's policy of employing its best resources in the care of foreigners who pay in American Dollars, at the expense of the locals: Dollars which they use to continue repressing the Cuban people.

100 Years of Medical
History in Cárdenas, 1860-1960

In Cuba, Cárdenas was called "The City of Firsts" because it was a pioneer in many aspects of the island's evolution. Over the years, it had also developed a medical service that kept up with the times as well as the needs of a population of some 45,000 inhabitants.

Cárdenas was the birthplace of a number of medical professionals that distinguished themselves as specilaists, university professors and medical authorities in the regulation and administration of the nation's healthcare system.

The first hospital built in the city was the Santa Isabel Hospital of Cárdenas, ceremoniously opened in approximately 1860, by Doña Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, the noted poet and glory of Cuban arts. It was later replaced in the 1950's by a then modern hospital equipped with the up-to-date technology of the times. Despite present deficiencies, that facility is still being used by the city's population.

The Cárdenas Board of Medicine had 50 members, duly certified in the practice of medicine by the University of Havana Medical School, many of which trained as specialists in Havana or abroad. This local medical association supervised the enforcement of ethical rules and the professional standards of each of its members, in affiliation with the National Medical Board of Cuba, which governed all of the doctors in the country. The Board had the benefit of a well stocked medical library and was subscribed to prestigious medical publications which were made available to its members so that they could stay abreast of the latest medical developments. Its building had ample facilities for conferences and scientific meetings. Periodically, postgraduate courses and seminars were offered, with the attendance of local and out-of-town guests and speakers.

From left to right, Rear: Dr. Adolfo Larrauri, Dr. Francisco Larrauri, Dr. José Luis Barro, Dr. Tomas Pérez Prendes, Dr. Lázaro Martínez, Dr. Félix Burés, Dr. Raymond Amador; Middle: Dr. Gilberto Scudieri, Dr. Angel Solar, Dr. Frank Martínez, Dr. Francisco Madrid, Dr. Manuel Ramírez, Dr. Juan Pérez-Balboa, Dr. Ramón García; Front: Dr. Miguel Angel Iglesias, Dr. Alberto Gutierrez, Dr. Fernando Pino, Sra. Julia María Leal: Administrative Secretary, Dr. José María Alzola, Dr. Ricardo Figueredo, Dr. Antonio Alegría.

The city had a Local Health Affairs Office, attached to the country's Health Ministry, which was responsible for supervising and enforcing the public health code promulgated by the central government. Cárdenas also had an Antituberculosis Dispensary and a Pediatric Clinic, staffed by specialists in those particular fields. The Emergency Medical Center "Casa de Socorro" had not only medical emergency facilities, but also a well equipped Outpatient Services Department and a Pharmacy headed by a Doctor in Pharmacy trained at the University of Havana. All services rendered there, including medicines, were absolutely free of charge.

Beyond the aforementioned public medical facilities, the City of Cárdenas had 3 private "Clinics" offering a wide range of medical services including inpatient hospital services. They offered their efficient and highly qualified medical service at a modest cost: "La Colonia Española de Cárdenas" ("The Spanish Colony of Cárdenas") - the oldest organization of its kind in the city, which was founded by Spanish immigrants, "La Clínica Cárdenas" and "La Clínica La Caridad," all of which functioned as Mutual Benefit Organizations. (These MBO's were the precursors of what are known today in the U.S. as Health Maintenance Organizations or HMO's, but with a heart). Membership in one of Cárdenas's MBO's required the payment of a monthly premium, usually on the order of two or three pesos (then equal in value to the US Dollar), and offered its members all of the then available medical treatment that a member patient's ailments could require.

This was a very brief synthesis of 100 years of medical history in the City of Cárdenas, 1860-1960.

Fernando Pino Mosquera, M.D.

Doctor Fernando Pino Mosquera, M.D. was born in Aguacate, Havana Province. He graduated from the School of Medicine of the University of Havana in 1945, and began to practice his profession in Cárdenas as a staff physician in the city's emergency medical center "Casa de Socorro." In 1947 he joined the medical staff of the "Colonia Española de Cárdenas," of which he became Medical Director in 1950, and continued in that position until his departure from Cuba in 1961. He was Medical Examiner for the Cárdenas Judicial District, President of the Cárdenas Board of Medicine during 1957-58, and again during 1959-60, as well as delegate from Matanzas Province to the Executive Committee of Cuba's National Board of Medicine. In 1960 he resigned his positions on these boards, protesting the "medical-political" actions being taken by the then-new "revolutionary government," as did many other doctors across the island.

Upon his arrival in the United States, Dr. Pino began working at a medical clinic in Tampa, Florida, before moving his family to St. Louis, Missouri. He lived in that American city for 7 years and trained there as a Psychiatrist, practicing Psychiatry at St. Louis State Hospital and also acting as a consultant in the city's Veteran's Hospital. He continued his professional development in Terrytown, New York, and later in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he was in private practice as well as on the staff of Rockland State Hospital, NY, and later at Meadowview Hospital, in Elizabeth, NJ. He culminated his brilliant medical career as Director of Psychiatry at Meadowview Hospital. Doctor Fernando Pino retired in 1988 and today lives in Miami, Florida, with his lovely wife, Georgina Santiusti de Pino. They have four children, three of which are M.D.'s.

The Cardenas Crab