Health

Dr. Óscar Costa Mandry, and his great contribution to emergency medicine in Puerto Rico

The event presents 10 relevant figures of Puerto Rican medicine, who stand out for their contributions such as Dr. Costa Mardy, considered the “father of Medical Technology in Puerto Rico.”

Dr. Óscar Costa Maldry, honored for his contribution to medicine in the Puerto Rican Medicine Hall of Fame. Photo: MSP montage

On October 6, the conference of the Puerto Rican Medicine Hall of Fame was held, where the members of the board of directors of this organization announced the names of medical figures who will receive the highest decoration delivery in Puerto Rico, to professionals who stand out for their commitment and contribution to the island’s society, from each of their specialties. The event will take place on November 18.

The person in charge of presenting the exalted was Dr. Jaime Rivera Dueño, former Secretary of the Department of Health, who highlighted the contributions of Dr. Oscar Costa Mandry, as a specialist in Internal Medicine, Pathology, Bacteriology, and Epidemiology.

Origin of a brilliant mind

Born in Yabucoa on September 17, 1898, he was the oldest of four brothers. His parents made the decision to move to Patillas and then to San Juan, in search of better quality for their children and home.

He finished his studies at Central High, then moved to Baltimore to study at the Mount Vernon Institute. At that time, relations with that city were good and intense. Baltimore was the main destination port for ships leaving the island.

Chronology of the considered “Father of Medical Technology in Puerto Rico”

He entered the University of Maryland School of Medicine, from which he graduated in 1922, being recognized with the highest honors and as the first of his class. He started as an intern at Mercy Hospital, and returned to Puerto Rico to work in the Department of Health in bacteriology. He was working as a resident at Presbyterian Hospital, then went to Columbia University in New York to specialize in pathology and bacteriology.

Later he became certified in internal medicine and pathology before the American Board of Internal Medicine (1928). He returned to the island and was appointed Director of the Department of Health Laboratories. He was mentioned by Dr. William O’Connor in his book “Soujorn in Tropical Medicine”, as one of the young men who accompanied and assisted him during his visit to the island in 1927.

For the year 1934, he received the Juan Pablo Duarte Order of the Dominican Republic in 1934 for his contribution to the health of that country. The year 1944 arrived, the Rector of the University of Puerto Rico, Don Jaime Benítez, integrated him into the Commission to create the School of Medicine. Thanks to his recommendation, the “Costa Mandry Report” allowed the creation of the School of Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico.

Your contribution to education

He was Director of Medical Education of the Department of Health and created the Residency in Clinical Pathology at the Bayamón District Hospital. He directed the Laboratory Institutes of the Department of Health (1951), creating the School of Medical Technology.

These contributions to medicine and his career as a health professional earned him two honorary doctorate degrees, in 1974 from the University of Puerto Rico and from the Central University of the Caribbean in 1984. As a teacher, Dr. Costa Mandry taught bacteriology, clinical pathology, and epidemiology at the School of Tropical Medicine, where he was also Director of the Medical Technology Program.

It stands out because it identified the relationship between hurricanes and epidemic outbreaks of dysentery in the towns directly affected by these natural disasters on the island.

He chaired the Board of Medical Technologists and founded the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American College of Physician. He was President of the Puerto Rico Medical Association and directed the Civil Defense medical services. His work is pioneering and has been a recent reference in the face of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States.

About the Hall of Fame

This organization recognizes doctors and entities that, with their contribution, have provided significant advances in favor of Puerto Rican medicine. Dr. Jaime Rivera Dueño, a member of the Board of the Puerto Rican Medicine Hall of Fame, assures that within the evaluation criteria to exalt these professionals, one of them is “it has to be that they have managed to do work and obtain achievements for the benefit of Puerto Ricans. People who in the past left such an extraordinary legacy… and the intention is that we can use all this to stimulate new doctors, who need to have someone to emulate.”

The organization’s official website highlights that its mission includes “recognizing in a fraternal activity those who have carried out such an arduous and risky deed for the health of our island during the Pandemic, a time that has made us go through an extremely difficult and full of great challenges for medicine, the medical class and the health industry in general”.

The selection process was initiated by a prestigious group of medical professionals, who formed a Committee, in which a strenuous research process was carried out on the nominees and the figures and entities that will be part of this Second Edition.

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