By Freda Rumford from the April 2011 Edition
The Armada plays a huge role within the military forces of Mexico. With almost 11,122 kilometres of coastline to protect, it is vital for the safety of Mexico’s estimated population of 111 million people, many of whom live in the major central cities, far from the ocean. The country relies totally on the 10 Armada bases on the Pacific coast, the 5 on the Eastern Gulf plus the important base on the Revillagigedo Islands, to patrol and safeguard the PEMEX Oil rigs in Campeche or the Gulf and to keep the drug traffickers at bay.
There are 56,000 men and women plus reserves, which help make up the country’s total navy personnel, with over 15,000 personnel and their families attached to Manzanillo. That being so, the Naval Hospital in Las Brisas plays a very important part in keeping these men and women fit and free from illness and life threatening circumstances.
Following the Navy Oceanic trip described by Robert Hill in last month’s Sun Magazine, we visited the Hospital where we met with Dr. Ivan Ocadiz who kindly gave us a tour of the hospital, the workings and history of this important part of Manzanillo Health Care. He explained that major redevelopment was underway for a hospital which would be considerably larger to meet modern needs in a modern building. The current building is old and will be replaced probably within the next year.
The Naval Hospital originated in 1930 in the area known as San Pedrito, which was at one time connected to Las Brisas by a bridge. Then it was simply known as a “Sanatorium” and not called a hospital until September 12 1935 under the first director, Capitan Lusandro Avila Ortiz. It remained in San Pedrito until 1975 and moved to the current location in Las Brisas when the port was enlarged. The current “new” hospital has 29 beds with 11 emergency beds, private and semi private rooms. In the major earthquake of 1996 which demolished many buildings including the Manzanillo General Hospital, it was the only hospital in the city which did not suffer damage and was vital to the rescue and survival of the Manzanillo residents at that time.
In 1991, the hospital received certification called “Friends of Mothers and Children” which is important in Mexico for enabling the treatment and care of the young. They now have a maternity ward and an incubation room for care of sick or premature babies.
Although the hospital is small in size, it has a staff of doctors to cover many specialities including: Internal medicine, Paediatrics, Colposcopy, Neurosurgery, Gynaecology, Anaestheology, Nephrology, Hemodialysis, Urology plus lots more; including a laboratory, X-ray and pharmacy services; although civilians have to get prescriptions filled elsewhere.
The Naval hospital now under the direction of Director Dr. Carlos Pitano Ramirez, is the first hospital in Manzanillo to have dialysis treatment available. This equipment consists of 6 machines, the original one of which was donated by Mrs. Laurie Leuschner in memory of her husband Bill Leuschner and SSA Mexico, not only for the benefit of military personnel and their dependents, but also for civilians who may require it. They currently are treating 15 patients each week from Monday to Friday.
The Hospital also has a Dysplasia Clinic which came into being due to a donation from the Dames Developers Marina in Manzanillo. This treatment facility requires a team to perform a Colposcopy, required in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer, (the Human Papilloma Virus).
These special facilities make the Navy Mexico and the Naval Hospital of Manzanillo, very much at the forefront of technology for providing much needed health services for both military beneficiaries and the public,
Dr. Ocadiz stressed continually that the hospital was for the use of not only the military but for civilians also. Persons requiring attention at the hospital may have such either in an Emergency situation which is free (apart from possibly a donation), or at the office as a private consultation. Most of the doctors work not only at the base Hospital but at IMSS, in private clinics and act as consultants and also have a private practice too. They are well trained in all modern day medical procedures at the Naval Medical Academy and are integral to the health and well being of Manzanillo residents.
The boat trip which we all thoroughly enjoyed was a fund raiser for the hospital and will help provide more equipment for the well being of marines, their families, locals and the foreign population who use it.
When approaching the gate, it is necessary to have proper identity papers with photograph, which will be returned to the owner upon leaving.