Dr. Oscar Costa Mandri and his great contributions to emergency medicine in Puerto Rico

The event features 10 relevant figures in Puerto Rican medicine who stand out for their contributions, such as Dr. Costa Mandri, considered “the father of medical technology in Puerto Rico.”

Dr. Oscar Costa Mandri, honored for his contributions to medicine in the Puerto Rican Medicine Hall of Fame. Photomontage: Journal of Medicine and Public Health

On October 6, the conference of the Puerto Rico Medical Hall of Fame was held, where the members of the board of directors of this organization announced the names of the medical figures who will receive the highest honor in Puerto Rico, to professionals who stand out for their commitment and contribution to the society of the island, from each of their specialties. The event will take place on November 18.

The person responsible for presenting the elevation was Dr. Jaime Rivera Dueno, former Secretary of the Ministry of Health, who highlighted the contribution of Dr. Oscar Costa Mandri, as a specialist in internal medicine, pathology, bacteriology and epidemiology.

Origin of a brilliant mind

Born in Yabucoa on September 17, 1898, he was the eldest of four brothers. His parents decided to move to Patillas and then to San Juan, in search of a better quality for their children and their home.

He graduated from Central High, then moved to Baltimore to study at Mount Vernon Institute. At that time, relations with this city were good and intense. Baltimore was the main port for ships leaving the island.

Timeline of Considered “Father of Medical Technology in Puerto Rico”

He entered the University of Maryland School of Medicine, graduating in 1922 with highest honors and first in his class. He started as an intern at Mercy Hospital and returned to Puerto Rico to work for the Department of Health in bacteriology. He worked as a resident at Presbyterian Hospital, then went to Columbia University in New York to specialize in pathology and bacteriology.

He later received a certificate in internal medicine and pathology from the American Board of Internal Medicine (1928). He returned to the island and was appointed Director of the Department of Health Laboratories. He is mentioned by Dr. William O’Connor in his book “Soujorn in Tropical Medicine” as one of the young men who accompanied and assisted him during his visit to the island in 1927.

For 1934, he received the Order of Juan Pablo Duarte of the Dominican Republic in 1934 for his contribution to the health of that country. The year 1944 arrived, the rector of the University of Puerto Rico, Don Jaime Benitez, integrated him into the Commission for the Creation of the Faculty of Medicine. Thanks to his recommendation, the “Costa Mandri Report” allowed the creation of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.

Your contribution to education

He was the Director of Medical Education for the Ministry of Health and established the Clinical Pathology Residency at the Bayamon Regional Hospital. He directed the laboratory institutes of the Ministry of Health (1951), establishing the School of Medical Technology.

These contributions to medicine and his career as a health professional earned him two honorary doctorates, in 1974 from the University of Puerto Rico and from the Central Caribbean University in 1984. As a teacher, Dr. Costa Mandri taught bacteriology, clinical pathology, and epidemiology at the School of Tropical Medicine, where he also served as director of the medical technology program.

He stands out because he identified the connection between hurricanes and epidemic outbreaks of dysentery in the cities directly affected by these natural disasters on the island.

He chaired the Board of Medical Technologists and founded the Puerto Rico chapter of the American College of Physicians. He was president of the Puerto Rico Medical Association and directed the medical services of the Civil Defense. His work is pioneering and was most recently a reference in the face of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the United States.

About the Hall of Fame

This organization recognizes physicians and organizations that have contributed significantly to the advancement of Puerto Rican medicine. Dr. Jaime Rivera Dueno, board member of the Puerto Rican Medicine Hall of Fame, assures that within the evaluation criteria for these professionals to be elevated, one of them is “they must have been able to do a job and achieve achievements for the benefit of Puerto Ricans. People who in the past have left such an extraordinary legacy … and the intention is to use all of that to stimulate new doctors who need to have someone to emulate.”

The official website of the organization emphasizes that its mission includes “recognizing in fraternal activity those who have done such a difficult and risky work for the health of our island during the pandemic, a time that has made us go through an extremely difficult and full of great challenges for medicine, the medical class and the health industry as a whole’.

The selection process was initiated by a prestigious group of medical professionals who formed a committee where a rigorous research process was carried out on the nominees and the figures and individuals who will be part of this second edition.