The Santo Tomás Hospital (HST) is the oldest hospital in this small Central American nation. Its foundation dates back to the 18th Century—specifically to 1703. HST is a public hospital under the administration of the Panama Ministry of Health.
The first written mention of HST was on April 11, 1703, in a letter written by Juan de Argüeyes, the Bishop of Panama City, to King Phillip V of Spain, in which he told him about a hospice he had founded in Panama. This hospice had been working since the day of Saint Thomas of Villanueva on September 22, 1702 to treat poor women who had nowhere to go. The letter begged him to consider this hospice as an official Spanish hospital. His Majesty granted his request, thus the title of Hospital Santo Tomás—HST.
In 1819, new facilities were built to replace the original HST. This new building was built on Avenida B . The new hospital began to treat men after the San Juan de Dios Hospital was closed.
On September 1, 1924, a new complex of buildings was built at the present location, on Avenida Balboa under the administration of President Belisario Porras who wanted to give his country a modern hospital.
The hospital was built on five hectares of land of which three were buildings, streets, sidewalks, and parkings and the remaining two hectares were used as gardens.
The political opposition of President Porras criticized the proyect, calling it a “white elephant” because they said it was too big for a small country. Time gave President Porras vindication, as 30 years later when he was sick, he couldn’t find a bed in the hospital, so he had to go to a private hospital where he died in 1942.
The hospital that people said was an exaggeration, couldn’t handle the demand of sick people of Panama when it was built. Even today, the HST is often called “the white elephant”, but not in a disrespective manner.
Below are several pictures of this regal building which is one of the most respected icons of Panama. Here we go.
Artistic photograph of Hospital Santo Tomás located in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
The archiecture style is similar to the buildings of the former Panama Canal Zone. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A closer view of the majestic building of Santo Tomás Hospital on the Balboa Avenue in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Even though this is a recent picture, the black and white colors create the impression it's an old photograph. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A closer view of the structure with its gorgeous white columns. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
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