Saturday, October 28, 2017

A New Life Growing in San Juan de Dios Hospital

A hospital building, behind growing trees.
The hospital's church.
San Juan de Dios Hospital, on Calle 1 and Carrera 10 in south-central Bogotá, holds a legendary status in Colombia's medical history. Its roots reach back to the 16th century, and some of the country's most accomplished doctors did their internships there.

But, amid financial problems, the hospital was shut down in 2001. Since then, it has been the center of controversy, as citizens groups and some politicians called for its reopening, laid-off employees lived in its buildings, demanding back pay, and its structures deteriorated.

Mayor Gustavo Petro supported the hospital's renovation and reopening - despite the huge cost - but did nothing. Under Mayor Peñalosa, two small sections of the hospital have been turned into emergency medical centers for ambulatory patients.

Meanwhile, the rest of the buildings continue deteriorating, and the trees keep growing, turning the hospital grounds into a kind of urban forest interspersed with decaying buildings, very possibly haunted.

San Juan de Dios's long limbo is nothing but a tragedy for Bogotá: for sick patients who suffer thru long waits for treatments, and for the hospital's neighbors, for whom its campus could provide much-needed green space - if only visitors were allowed in.

An urban forest.
A wheelchair access ramp for patients who never come.
The front of the building, a small part of which is in use.

Wouldn't this make a nice park, or medical museum?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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