My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SANTIAGO, Chile , Tuesday. Tuesday—The doctor in charge of the Quinta Normal Health Center here, who finished his studies at our Johns Hopkins University, was more than kind in showing me around the institution and explaining the way the nurses take care of the outpatients.

Each nurse has charge of 10,000 families, with some help, of course, from volunteers in the various districts who are educated by the nurse and who work closely with the families who are their neighbors.

There is a maternity hospital for mothers needing hospitalization, but the use of midwives is still very prevalent. And in many cases of childbirth, just a kindly neighbor is called in to assist at the delivery.

From the health center we went to visit the Trudeau Hospital, where tubercular patients are treated. Through the facilities of the hospital and a general educational program a marked decline in the incidence of this disease has been noted.

The hospital has well over 400 beds, with space to build for many more beds. When the hospital was designed the plans wisely called for a large enough kitchen, laundry, etc., to take care of 1,000 patients. It is not a showy hospital and was erected at a cost of only $2,500 per bed, but it seems to me to be wonderfully well suited to the needs of the people being treated for tuberculosis. The wards are all very bright, with sunshine and fresh air on all sides. There are a certain number of private rooms, but they are available only for those cases that require special care and are not assigned on the basis of an ability to pay for them.

The atmosphere was cheerful throughout the institution, and I noticed there is a program under way to teach the patients and all the people what a balanced meal should be. At a glance, however, it looked as though it were going to be difficult to wean many of them away from their love of potatoes. The main portion on every patient's plate was mashed potatoes.

I was told that the hospital also was just beginning to teach a little occupational therapy, and I found one man, who had developed his own program, who was making little pots of bright-colored flowers with little more than some wire and colored silks as his materials.

On my return home I shall try to remember to send down here some samples of artificial flowers made by a group of blind veterans in Alabama, who use old dyed nylon stockings as their raw material.

We lunched at the Chilean North American Cultural Institute. This organization teaches English to Spanish-speaking students and Spanish to English-speaking students, besides the history and literature of the two countries. Also, it encourages the folk arts. There was in progress an exhibition of some very fine hand weaving.

This was a very pleasant gathering of people and we left reluctantly, but we had to prepare to visit the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to present our credentials in the afternoon. He was most kind and agreeable and made of this inevitably formal occasion a really pleasant opportunity to have a little chat.

Beginning at 7 o'clock a reception was held at the Embassy, at which about 700 people attended. A greatly beloved character there was the old Cardinal Jose M. Caro Rodriguez, who has a very beautiful face. I also was very glad to meet Gen. Don Carlos Ibanez and his wife, who came with their daughters. It gave me my first opportunity to greet the future President and have a short informal talk. I was pleased to see again the President's young daughter who had presented to me at Santiago College a little Chilean flag as a memento of my visit here.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Santiago (Chile) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 5, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.