Recent news has disclosed that the San Pedro Lions Club is undertaking yet another wonderful project - a new hospital. As the plans are being drafted, negotiations underway and donations requested, one should stop to think for a moment of a person that has worked closely with the San Pedro Lions Club to improve the medical system on the island. Yes, you guessed right, we speak of no other than Dr. Otto Rodriguez.
Dr. Otto Rodriguez was born in the Central American country of El Salvador. At a young age Dr. Rodriguez felt a strong inclination towards the medical field and since then knew that this was the path for him. By the time Dr. Otto was sixteen he was enrolled in the University of Guadalajara in Mexico where he graduated in 1972. He performed his one-year required internship at the Social Security Hospital of Reynosa in Tamaulipas, Mexico and then practiced at the Social Services Hospital of Manzanillo also in Mexico. In 1975, Dr. Rodriguez received his General Practitioner's title and returned to his birthplace to share his medical services.
Dr. Otto Rodriguez opted to come to Belize in 1977 to learn English. While here, he was offered and accepted a job at the Belize City Hospital. He quickly adapted to the lifestyle and language of Belize and in 1980 joined the Belize City Lions Club. During one of Dr. Rodriguez's leaves, he decided to visit San Pedro for a vacation. His good reputation had reached the ears of the San Pedro Lions Club, who were in need of a resident doctor. During his vacation, he was approached by the Club and offered the island doctor's position. It did not take much convincing for Rodriguez to accept. The combination of friendly people, active Lions Club and island lifestyle all played a big role in his decision. Dr. Otto moved to San Pedro in 1982, together with his wife, Mireya and two sons, Otto and Henry. He immediately settled in and got to work. For the islanders, Dr. Otto was a blessing from heaven. His being here alleviated financial burdens that many had to incur during emergencies when a resident doctor was not available. Dr. Otto worked at the Lions Clinic assisted by Nurse Burns. The clinic, at that time, consisted of only two rooms and limited medical supplies and equipment.
As time went by, the clinic continued to improve and expand and so did Dr. Rodriguez's services. By 1992, he was put in charge of San Pedro's first and only Hyperbaric Chamber. Dr. Otto went through a series of intense courses relating to this new field. Some of these courses were done in Cozumel, Mexico, Duke University in North Carolina and Florida, USA. Today, he is assisted by Nurse Veronica at the clinic and by Antonia Guerrero at the Chamber.
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Rodriguez has also been a dedicated Lion member. He has held the position of President, Drug Awareness District Chairman and Diabetes Awareness District Chairman. He has been a key educator devoting a lot of his time to lecture in schools throughout the island.
Dr. Otto has delivered hundreds of children on the island, bringing much joy to the proud parents, and unfortunately has also seen some lose their beloved ones. Today, Dr. Rodriguez is more than a doctor; he is a friend, a fellow Lion brother and an overall great guy. Our Community feels lucky that we were blessed with a professional of his capacity who has aided us in our not so pleasant moments. We appreciate all the work he has done with each individual patient. For all his long hours, house calls and emergencies, Our Community says "Thank you, Doc."
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