Our Community - Lerida Rodriguez - "A Good Dose of Medicine for San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 24            June 15, 2000

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Doctor Lerida Rodriguez

As San Pedro continues to grow, one of the main concerns of the people and visitors to the island is proper medical treatment. San Pedro has come far in this area; from having only one nurse on the island to the present Lions Clinic, San Pedro Health Center and various private doctors. Recent construction underway on the first hospital on Ambergris Caye is proof that we are moving along with the times to provide this important service. This week we are pleased to introduce one of the fine medical professionals of our community - Dr. Lerida Rodriguez.

    Born and raised in Matanzas City, Cuba, Lerida was always an ambitious girl going through elementary and secondary school. At a young age she discovered her passion for medicine and helping others so she moved to the capital city. She enrolled in the medical program and graduated as a General Practitioner from the University of Havana in 1976. Dr. Lerida spent the next four years performing social services in Matanzas City and then returned to the Hospital of Matanzas as a doctor, specializing in Internal and Gastro-Intestinal Medicine. After only two years, she was offered the position of Chief of Medical Staff at this hospital that consisted of 900 beds. Dr. Rodriguez served in this capacity to the best of her abilities for a period of two and a half years. At this time, Guinea Bissau in Africa was one of seven of the poorest areas in the world. Because of a mutual agreement between Africa and Cuba they had requested medical assistance. Dr. Lerida volunteered her services and moved to Africa for one year. The doctor recalls this as being a valuable learning experience, not only from the people, but because of the other medical professionals there.

    Upon her return to Cuba, she was sent on another assignment, this time to Belize. The same agreement as that with Africa found the Cuban doctor at the Belize City Hospital in 1993. This one-year period of her life was also fruitful as she learned a lot and made numerous friends while working in the medical ward and out-patient department. After her contract to work in Belize had expired she returned to Cuba. The time spent in Belize had been unforgettable and motivated her to return to this country. After only two months back home, Dr. Rodriguez decided to move permanently to Belize, but this time to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye where she had visited often and also made friends. While waiting for her license to practice to be processed and approved, Dr. Lerida obtained a job at the San Carlos Pharmacy in San Pedro. In July of 1997, her license was granted and, with the help of many friends from the island, Dr. Lerida opened her clinic and eventually her pharmacy. Since then she has helped many residents and tourists of the island.

    Dr. Lerida Rodriguez has two children; one who followed in her footsteps, a doctor practicing in Cuba. When asked about her experience in San Pedro she commented, "I came to this island not knowing many people and was well-accepted and helped by many. A lot of people trusted and aided me without expecting anything in return. Belize and San Pedro are now my second home. It gave me the opportunity to start all over again and I will always be grateful." One of her biggest hopes is to see a twenty-four hour emergency clinic/hospital here. She commented, "I admire the work of the San Pedro Lions Club and Mr. Ramon Nuñez for their wonderful efforts in building the first hospital in San Pedro. This is a very important project that will benefit everyone in this community."

    After living and working around the world, Dr. Lerida Rodriguez chose San Pedro as her permanent place to practice medicine. She joins other health care professionals in bringing reliable medical service to San Pedro and we thank her for "injecting" health into "Our Community."

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