This collection of columns, published in The San Juan Star over the years, by the distinguished hematologist and former president of the Univeristy of Puerto Rico, Norman Maldonado, chronicles the development of public policies on health in Puerto Rico. Maldonado, a former chancellor of the Medical Sciences Campus of the UPR, presents a series of biographical sketches on the main protagonists in the development of healthcare in Puerto Rico. Each column offers brief and pertinent remarks on each of the professionals covered and their importance in the development of the institutions that support public healthcare on the island. The collection also presents a contextualized perspective of the health reform begun in the closing years of the twentieth century.
Much of this history also has a very personal and anecdotal focus. I am a doctor in the field of hematology, a product of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine as a student, resident, fellow and professor. I was also chancellor of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus for eight years and later served as president of the entire University of Puerto Rico system for another seven years. In the 1970s I served the municipal government of San Juan as director of San Juan City Hospital and the Puerto Rico government as undersecretary of health in charge of public health centers and hospitals throughout the island. I have been an advisor to the government on health care issues over the years, and a major participant in the Health Reform of 1993.
All these experiences have introduced me to many of the major and minor players in Puerto Rico’s health care story. I am proud of the many contributions –those that are highly visible and others relatively unsung– of Puerto Rico’s doctors, scientists and health care professionals who developed a modern medical mecca on this small Caribbean island. This is an unfinished story, as some of my columns date back a few years, and others have not yet been researched. But it is a start to an ongoing saga.