The Gorgas Hospital

Today I will continue with my posts about interesting locations in the former Canal Zone.  This time it’s time to talk about the Gorgas Hospital, the most important health institution in the Panama Canal Zone, named after William Crawford Gorgas (1854–1920).

Gorgas was a United States physician and 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.  He is best known for his work in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry them at a time when there was considerable skepticism and opposition to such measures.

As chief sanitary officer on the canal project, Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting, and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in permitting the construction of the Panama Canal, as they significantly prevented illness due to yellow fever and malaria (which had also been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 1898) among the thousands of workers involved in the building project.

The Gorgas Hospital was built on the site of a French hospital called “L’Hospital Notre Dame de Canal”, it was originally called Ancon Hospital and later in 1928, renamed Gorgas Hospital. It was originally built of wood, but was rebuilt in concrete in 1915 by Samuel Hitt.

The hospital is located on Ancon Hill with an elevation between 130 and 180 feet above sea level, which favors spectacular views of Panama Bay and cool ocean breezes, which reduces the discomfort from the heat and humidity.   It was managed by the U.S. Army for most of the 20th century, but is now, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, in Panamanian hands.  Since October 1999, it has been home to the Instituto Oncológico Nacional (National Oncological Institute), Panama’s Ministry of Health and the Panama Supreme Court.

After more than a century of clinical and research activities in Panama, Gorgas Army Community Hospital  Hospital closed its doors on October 1, 1997,  in anticipation of the scheduled reversion of Panama Canal territories and facilities to the Republic of Panama by midday December 31, 1999.

I visited this famous hospital on March 22, 2009 and took several pictures for your enjoyment.  This is what I saw on a cool Sunday afternoon.  Here we go.

Photograph of the names of the Gorgas Hospital in English and Spanish.  Currently this is a specialized hospital responsible for treating cancer patients.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of the names of the Gorgas Hospital in English and Spanish. Currently this is a specialized hospital responsible for treating cancer patients. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Views of the Gorgas Hospital showing the massive structure built with concrete at the turn of the century.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Views of the Gorgas Hospital showing the massive structure built with concrete at the turn of the century. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
View of the upper section of the hospital located at Balboa Heights, Panama City, Panama.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
View of the upper section of the hospital located at Balboa Heights, Panama City, Panama. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
A general view of this complex hospital.  Notice how large and modern the installations are.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A general view of this complex hospital. Notice how large and modern the installations are. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of a section of the Gorgas Hospital located at Balboa on the Pacific Side of the Isthmus of Panama.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of a section of the Gorgas Hospital located at Balboa on the Pacific Side of the Isthmus of Panama. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of the historic and beautiful hospital that sits at the base of Ancon Hill. Its staff provided care to the Armed Forces and civilian in the former Canal Zone.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of the historic and beautiful Gorgas Hospital that sits at the base of Ancon Hill. Its staff provided care to the Armed Forces and civilians in the former Canal Zone. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Clear view of the name of the hospital embedded in the concrete of the structure.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Clear view of the name of the hospital embedded in the concrete of the structure. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

This historic hospital  is a priceless legacy left by the Americans who built the Panama Canal.  It portrays the magnitude of this monumental building project equaled only by the great pyramids of Egypt.  Good Day.


175 thoughts on “The Gorgas Hospital”

  1. Lived in Ft. Clayton, Ft Kobbe (later renamed Howard AFB) from 59 – 64. Left my tonsils in Gorgas somewhere. Had a GREAT view of Panama City and Balboa. Was at the very end of a ward (Yes Ward, not single or double room) with a window at my feet and one on the left side of my bed. Didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to anything while I was there. THEN, I FOUND OUT THAT I COULD HAVE ALL THE ICE CREAM THAT I WANTED. I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!!!! Milked that one for as long as I could. The Hospital was Beautiful. Still has some of the charm, but they should have kept the outside the same, even if they updated the inside. Oh well, that’s progress.

    1. Hi Dwight:

      You were a lucky man at that hospital enjoying all the ice cream you wanted. Yummity-yum-yum-yum! Thank you for your interesting comment. Feel free to come back anytime.



    2. Hello. i have a set of the original sconce lights from that hospital which were removed from the morgue around 1981. it was interesting reading your article and will also serve as backround information if i sell them. thanks m

    3. Hi Dwight:

      I’m glad you were able to refresh your memories of the Gorgas Hospital. Images are excellent tools to recreate the past. Yes, the Panama Canal Zone was a paradise on earth. It’s sad that it no longer exists, but in our minds.

      Best Regards,


    4. I was serving in the 508th Airborne stationed at Ft. Kobbe, c.z. and one day out at Empire Range right on the banks of the Canal I wrecked a jeep…..driving way too fast…missed a curved the jeep flipped and I landed in a ditch full of ashes left over from a Panamanian Iguana hunt…they burnt the field to chase out the iguanas….I was loaded onto a medics jeep but instead of taking me directly to Gorgas they took me to a small aid station at Ft. Kobbe(right down the street from Battalion Hqs.) I was in and out of consciousness…the doc there examined me –quickly and ordered me taken to Gorgas . I had almost bled out by the time I got there…serious internal injuries…I had great doctors …they saved my life. I spent a couple of months there….great people. Sad to know it is gone. What was Jimmy Carter thinking?

  2. Gorgas Hospital was the worst hospital ever!! A friend of mine once broke his finger and I heard his father comment that he was glad it was just a finger because anything more complicated and one was taking his life into his own hands! I don’t have any empirical evidence, just anecdotal, and the care at Gorgas was never the best. The doctors there exhibited a minimal level of competence but then, what were we to expect…it was socialized, public medicine. Whenever anyone in my family needed medical care, we always went to the San Fernando Clinic or the Paitilla Hospital in Panama City which had far superior care than Gorgas. We sought out and engaged doctors in private practice that were successful and had excellent reputations. Gorgas Hospital fulfilled a greater role as a far as research and control of tropical diseases but as far as patient care and competence of its medical staff, it was far from being good.

    1. Hi Rick:

      I’m sorry to hear that. It’s the first negative comment I’ve heard on the Gorgas Hospital. All of my friends got excellent service there.

      Thank you for giving us your thoughts. Please feel free to drop at Lingua Franca at anytime.

      Best Regards,


    2. I lived in the Canal Zone from 1956 – 1973 and my parents continued to live there until 1985. Both my younger brothers were born in Gorgas Hospital. I was a frequent visitor at Gorgas, mainly for lacerations and incisions requiring stitches. At age 13 I managed to get shot by a spear gun in the leg. I spent 10 days in Gorgas recovering and received 2 penicillin shots daily. The surgery and care I received there was excellent and I’ll always be grateful to the wonderful, competent physicians, nurses and orderlies who worked there.

      The claim that Gorgas wasn’t good, ignores the facts, and it’s reputation was excellent, from those who used it. I don’t doubt other quality care may have been available, but I would have been scared to death to be treated anywhere but Gorgas.

      My deep, sincere thanks to all the staff there that took care of me so competently and professionally. Most current U.S. hospitals stand in the shadow of Gorgas and anyone who ever worked there should feel proud of their service.

      Hal White
      BHS 1970

      1. Hi Hal:

        Thank you so much for your thorough comments about your experiences with the Gorgas Hospital. I echo with your words. I think this is was one of the best hospitals in the world. Many people are as grateful as you are with services received.

        Best Regards,


      2. Anyone who has to say a bad comment about the Gorgas hospital should thnk twice. I was born there in 1983 at 5 months and a half. If it wouldn’t have been for the excellent care by the doctors, physicians, and staff at the hospital, I wouldn’t be here writing this comment, too bad it dsen’t exsist anymore, it was the best place to get medical care in Panma, back in the day. Now, all that is left are the memories and pictures,

        Jennifer Sorenson

  3. Hi Omar,

    Wonderful to see present-day pictures of the hospital where I was born. I’m currently writing and illustrating an art journal about the early years living in Panama. It will be on my impending website soon to launch in June. This post made my day!

    Love your blog. I’ll be returning.


    1. Hello June:

      I would be most interested in reading your new blog about your early years in Panama. Please leave us a message when it’s released into the wild.

      Thank your for kind words. You will always be welcomed here.

      Best of luck,


  4. Thanks Omar. I will make a note to let you know.

    In regards to Rick’s comment, dare I say, I don’t see a problem with socialized medicine. It all depends on the circumstances and particular staff.

    For instance, my family never had any problems at Gorgas. But we did when we moved to North America. All the non-socialized hospitals if you will . . . wrong teeth pulled and more then necessary. A brother’s eyes damaged when a nurse spilled medicine onto them. He now has glaucoma. Stories of people having a leg amputated when not necessary, and so on.

    But it’s nice to hear that Rick and family found an alternative hospital to meet their needs.


  5. Thank you so much for a walk down memory lane. I have not had the opportunity to visit Panama since 2006 and miss going. I really enjoy when I can find pictures of places I used to visit, they refresh my desire to go again.

    Thank you again for your excellent work.
    Jonathan (Dallas, TX)

    1. Hi John:

      Thank you for such kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs of Gorgas Hospital. I hope you get the opportunity to come on down and revisit Panama soon. There are so many good things going on in Panama nowadays.

      Best Regards,


  6. A photo is worth a thousand words. How true. My brother Henry (’30), myself (34), and youngest daughter Karen (62) were born at Gorgas. The hospital was there, and the community always received top-notch care. I can’t count the number of times I walked past there from Ancon to our home in Balboa Heights, and vice versa. Thanks to you, the memories of a great institution and that part of my life in the Canal Zone are re-kindled within me.



    1. Hello Murray:

      Thanks to comments like yours is that I keep on doing what I do every day. They reassure that what I’m doing is appreciated by my readers. Thank you very much. I’m glad your memories of time spent in the Panama Canal Zone has been re-kindled, as you said.

      Best Regards,


  7. They say “A picture is worth a thousand words”. How true.
    Gorgas Hospital was always there, ready to serve the community when needed. And these photos have brought many wonderful memories to surface in my mind. My brother Henry (30), myself (34), and youngest daughter Karen (62) were born there. Dr. Ben Keene, a pathogogist, and Dr. Berger, a general practioner, are the two that I remenber to most. There were so many professional staff members working there. I can’t count the number of times I have passed that hospital while being in the Canal Zone. Thanks again.



  8. Thanks, Omar for the update. I was born in Gorgas in 1938, my brother, Bob, in 1931 and brother, Henry Joe in 1929.
    I had ten stays in Gorgas by the time I was ten . these “visits” included malaria, dysentary and a severely lacerated hand.
    Hank was also treated for malaria caught while making maps for IAGS.

    Our experiences with the doctors was outstanding…….very competent.


    1. Hi Ralph:

      Sorry about all those sicknesses, however you had a good health support from Gorgas Hospital. It was the best hospital South of the border. I’m sorry it’s gone.

      Thanks a lot for your comments.



  9. I was born in Gorgas and lived above the hospital on Herrick Road for 30 years until the housing & hospital was turned over 97. Now the only house on Herrick Rd no longer there, 0208 A & B Herrick Rd. Practicually know every nook & cranny of the hospital & hill as kids do explore. Also went to school at Ancon just at the old Canal Zone border and the last sixth grade class to be there. Also went to Church at St. Luke’s where my grandparents married in 1932. Also withstood Just Cause. My parents met while both young interns–one a physician, the other a registered nurse. It brought back many memories and appreciate the many photos posted on your site.

    1. Hi Pamela:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences at the former Canal Zone with us. I’m glad our photographs triggered those pleasant memories.

      Sometimes it’s nice to re-create the past. There will be many more photographs of interesting sites of the Panama Canal Zone in the near future.

      Please stay tuned.

      Best Regards,


    2. Pamela,

      I’m curious who you are. I lived on Herrick Heights Road from 1966 to 1969. We left during the junta takeover the summer of ’69. Where on the hill were you? Up the hill from me were the Smiths, Baileys, Binghams and Rupps. Do any of these names ring a bell?

      1. (Last Name Weldon) Move to Ancon 0208 Herrick Road in 1968, from San Juan Place ont he other side of the hill (Balboa Heights).

      2. I remember two families that moved near us about that time. One was originally from New Orleans and the other was down the hill from us, near the old French house that burned. Do you have a brother or sister? I;m trying to place who you are.

    3. I was born in Panama in 1963 @ Gorgas Hospital , my father was in the Army just looking at pics and stories of anything from back then. everything from back when I was born has been destroyed or lost came across this articile enjoy anything and everything about Panama//Mary Fulton

  10. Thanks so much for your lovely pictures. I wish you had available some of the old photos of the old wooden buildings that were still being used after the hospital was built in concrete–I was born in one of them in 1942 and somewhere I have the hospital bill for just a few, don’t remember how many, but VERY few dollars! I always thought the care there was tip-top–certainly a lot better than Stateside!

    1. Hello Aurora:

      I’m sorry but I don’t have available the old photos you mention in your comment. However, if I find them somewhere on the Internet, I would certainly include them in a future post.

      Thank you for sharing your memories of Gorgas Hospital with our readers.

      Best Regards,


  11. Thanks Omar for the wonderful photos, and thank you very much Aurora for forwarding them to me. They are treasures that should become as valuable as Castillo San Lorenzo in Portobelo Colon or any other of the many Intangible cultural heritage sites our country still has and remain neglected.

    Keep up the good work Omar

    1. Hello Roberto:

      I agree with you that these building should be part of the world’s cultural heritage. They are too valuable to let them decay as many of our buildings have been neglected, like the Casa Miller in Calidonia.

      Thank you Roberto for your kind words. That is the fuel that keeps me going like the Energizer bunny.



  12. I was born at Gorgas Hospital in 1947. I grew up in the Canal Zone and later came back to work at Gorgas as a registered nurse. The care and attention given to patients, from all departments was as professional as anywhere I have worked. Thank you for the photos and walk down memory lane. It is a beauty in architecture.

    1. Hi Cathy:

      Thank you for your comments. We all agree on the high quality of health care provided by the Gorgas Hospital. I was one of the best health care centers south of the Rio Grande.

      Best Regards,


  13. My uncle James “Jimmie” Crawford Angel (1899-1956) was hospitalized at Gorgas hospital for nine months in the year 1956. He died there on December 8, 1956.

    I doubt that any USA hospital would keep a person for that many months now. I belive my family is thankful for the care that he received. I do not know who paid for his hospitalization. He was injured when his plane landed and was caught in a cross-wind at David, Panama.
    Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, in Venezuela is named for Jimmie Angel.

    I would be delighted to make contact with any person who was in contact with my Uncle Jimmie Angel during his nine months in Gorgas hospital; he was in a coma most of the time. The physician who signed his death certificate is Everett T. Rhoades, M.D.

    Kind regards,
    Karen Angel


    My father Clyde Marshall Angel (1917-1997) was Jimmie Angel’s (1899-1956) youngest brother.

    1. Update to May 17, 2009 message about American aviator-explorer Jimmie Angel. Jimmie Angel was not in Gorgas Hospital for nine months from complications resulting from a difficult aircraft landing. He was in and out of Gorgas Hospital for periods of time during nine months. He did die in Gorgas Hospital 8 December 1956.

      Karen Angel

  14. he leído con entusiasmo toda las historias aca expresadas y me gustará comentar que ademas de los ciudadanos norteamericanos muchos panameños tambien recibieron atención médica en el gorgas hospital, mi hermano estubo hospitalizado en varias ocaciones en la década de los 80 por cirugias, espero les aporte mi comentario.

    1. Hola Jorge:

      Es cierto, mucho panameños tuvieron la oportunidad de utilizar las instalaciones de este magnìfico hospital. Todos aquellos empleados del Canal de Panama tenìan acceso al nosocomio sin tener que pagar un centavo. Despuès del Tratado Torrijos-Carter. el hospital cesò sus operaciones.

      Gracias por dejarnos su comentario para otros lectores,



  15. I did my internship and residency training at Gorgas Hospital. My experiences and training have helped me all my professional career. I am very greatful for that wonderful experience at Gorgas and Panama(1975-1979)

  16. My husband, Albert Edward Warrens, M.D., did his internship at Gorgas Hospital 1946-47, and he spoke so well of the year and his experiences there and in Panama. About 3 years ago, I took a cruise through the Canal after spending a day in Panama City. I hired a driver to take me to the hospital. At that time it was surrounded by a wire fence with military guarding the area. The best I could do was take a few photos from a distance. In spite of this intimidation, I could envision Ed Warrens, young intern, taking in every interesting area of his Panama, and the drive and view were a success and meaningful to me.

    1. Please, could you tell me the email of

      Marilyn Wade Warrens or her housband Albert Edward Warrens, M.D., did his internship at Gorgas Hospital 1946-47


      1. I was also born at Gorgas Hospital Oct, 1946. My Dad was in the Construction Batalion for the US Navy. We moved back to the states when I was 2 do not remember anything but would live to visit my birth place.

  17. Hello,

    Do you know where they sent the medical records from 1973,regarding Inpatient care.

    I loved living at Howard, my familly has fond memories
    always of the Canal Zone.

    Mary Holm

    1. Hi Mary:

      I’m not sure, but I think all files were secured by the U.S. Department of Defense. I would contact them for further information. The Gorgas Hospital was administered by the DOD.

      Good luck with your search,


  18. Hello,

    We have someone who was born on a military base in Panama in 1953 who is trying to obtain a copy of her birth certificate. Can you possibly guide us as to the procedure to do this?

    The only information she has is:

    Balboa Heights

    Fort Clayton

    Canal Zone, Panama\

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank you!


    MaryAnne Tabor

    Case Manager, COTS Petaluma Shared Housing

    707-765-6593 ext. 103

    1. Hi MA Tabor:

      When the U.S. Department of Defense turned the Gorgas Hospital over to the Government of Panama, they took all files to their offices in the United States.

      I recommend that you address them for this birth certificate. No files were left behind.

      Best Regards,


      1. Hi Omar, My name is Humberto Aleman Jr. I’m a Panamanian, Now I’m US Citizen, I was born in Gorgas Hospital Canal Zone in 1948. when I request my US Citizenship by marriage My wife is US Citizen, I reques my birthcertificate in Dpt. od Defense in Washinfton, also in that time was sent back to me copy of my original with my footprint (birth time).
        For those who born in Gorgas Hospital and Panamanian parentsm this certificate will come with a notation “NOT PROOF OF US CITIZENSHIP”
        Thanks Omar

  19. Thank you for this site. I was in the CZ from 1970-1974.

    My age was 15 to 19. I volunteered at Gorgas as a Red Cross worker when I was 16 and had lots of fun.

    When I was 18, I fell on a glass I was holding and it shattered as it hit the ground, with my hand on top of it!
    I’ll spare you all the gory details. I was rushed to Gorgas hospital where they took me into emergency surgery. The doctor who operated on me had just come back from the USA where he learned micro-surgery. Nice timing! Anyway, I was in the hospital for a week and I had excellent care. I will always be thankful for the surgeon…otherwise, I would be giving everyone “the finger”(that’s how my hand was paralized from cut tendons) Yikes!!

    I graduated from Balboa High in 1972. I went to Canal Zone College for a couple of semesters too. What is the college now?

    Thanks again for the beautiful pictures.


  20. Hello. i have the original sconce lights which were installed in 1907 in the morgue of this hospital. they were removed in the 80’s. when i get ready to sell them the information on your site will be helpful. thank you. m

  21. I lived in the Panama Canal Zone for five years… Eveytime that I visited The Gorgas Hospital I was treated with respect and in a very professional manner.

    It was a pleasure and an honor seeing that someone like William C Gorgas was recocnized as one of the most important individuals that helped build the Panama Canal from 1902 to 1914.

    To me, he was the unsung hero of in our family but also the Panamenians should be proud of his achievements during such trying periods…. His father, BG Josiah Gorgas, a confederate soldier – was also a hero during the U. S. Civil War… He was the Ordnance and Munitions Officer serving General Robert E. Lee…

    I am proud to be a Gorgas…


    Emiliano Gorgas — Las Vegas. Nevada

    1. Hello Emiliano:

      You have every right to be proud of bearing the Gorgas name. As you said, William C. Gorgas is considered a pillar in the construction of the Panama Canal. This project can only be compared with the construction of the pyramids of Egypt.

      Thank you for the information about BG Josiah Gorgas who served under General Robert E. Lee.

      Best Regards,


    2. Gorgas also has a Dormitory named after him at Sewanee (The University of the South), in Tennessee, where he attended school.

  22. I was born in Gorgas Hospital Pn December 5,1946. I am trying despertly to obtain a copy of my birth cerfitificate. I live in the United States and have been living since 1959. Is there any way you could help me obtain my birth certificate. My mom passed away in 1993 and I have no other information. Please email me and let me know what I need to do.

    Thanking you in advance,
    Eleanor A. Drayton

    1. Hello Ms. Drayton:

      When the U.S. Department of Defense turned the Gorgas Hospital over to the Government of Panama, they took all files to their offices in the United States.

      I recommend that you address them for this birth certificate. No files were left behind.

      Best Regards,


  23. Hi!glad to see pics of hospital where i was born on 03-09-1917.
    am still trying to get a copy birth from gov may live long enough
    to get it .dad was gen edwards driver at ft amador sgt royce l irvin
    his army name. real name was rock l ingle
    thanks for the web site

  24. Hello, Thank you for this very interesting website. I was born in Gorgas Hospital in 1949. My family and I left the canal zone in ~1953. I have never had the opportunity to visit Panama, but I plan to do so in the near future. I was wondering if Gorgas Hospital still existed. I look forward to visiting it when I travel to Panama.
    Jim Allen

    1. Hello James:

      Yes, the Gorgas Hospital still exists, only its function has changed. The hospital is operated by the Government of Panama and used as a specialized hospital to treat patients with cancer.

      The photographs that you saw were taken on March 22, 2009. They are very recent.

      Thank you for visiting Lingua Franca.

      Best Regards,


  25. Was stationed at fort kobbe 1959-1961, our first son was born in gorgas hospital, great hospital, lived in ancon, what they called vacation quarters, 3mo. we were very young not understanding the country we were in, but now as seniors, we look back at some of the beautiflu blessing we have in our minds and thoughts of a world in the now in the past. great times thanks

  26. As a medic 1981-1983 I walked the long halls and breezeways of Gorgas. I was blessed to do a rotation throughout the different departments and wards. I assisted in the treatment and care of some of the last remaining original canal laborers. Observed diagnosis & treatment of exotic tropical diseases, canal accidents, gunshot DEA agents transfered from Columbia, witnessed birth for the first time, ad infinitum. It was a magical place for a young man entering the medical field and a great enviroment for learning. I am happy to see the building still serves as a medical facility.

    1. Hi Chuck:

      “It was a magical place for a young man entering the medical field and a great environment for learning.”

      I’m glad these photograph flashed back so many nice memories. It was a wonderful place which played a fundamental part in the construction of the Panama Canal and beyond. It is not used to fight cancer in Panama.

      Thank you for sharing your memories with us.



  27. I was stationed at Rodman Naval Station for 3 years. I volunteered at Gorgas ER every weekend. My daughter was born there. As fate would have it, my great grand father was stationed in Panama WAY long ago but my great aunt was born there. I closed the circle by helping to treat the last patient seen in the ER the nght Gorgas closed. THere was not a dry eye there!

  28. Omar,
    My Son was born at Gorgas in April 1994 and we have lost his birth certificate. Do you know how we might go about getting a new one?

    1. Hi Duane:

      After the U.S. relinquished jurisdiction of the Panama Canal Zone to the Republic of Panama all files of the Gorgas Hospital were taken by the U.S. Defense Department to Washington, D.D. Suggest you contact them in Washington, D.C. for the birth certificate you’re looking for.

      Good Luck,


  29. Thanks so much for posting these pictures. I delivered a daughter on the 7th floor of the new section, December 1980, lived at Albrook AFS at the time. I well remember that “bridge” that went from the 3rd or 4th floor of one section into the basement of the other building.

  30. I grew up in Ancon during the 60s. My father ran the orthopedic department at Gorgas Hospital, my brothers and I attended Ancon elementary, we lived on Herrick Heights road and it was an amazing time. Our mother taught 4th grade at Ft. Clayton. I am so grateful to have experienced it, and would love to see current photos of the Herrick Heights area. As kids, we used to play in the wards of the old hospital and in the civil defense tunnels. Great memories.

    1. Dear Brock:
      Your Dad was one of my surgeons (along with Dr Cutler) to repair a difficult ankle fracture experienced while living in Costa Rica. I would love to know more about him. I can only say good things about Gorgas and the attention I received there. Thanks to your Dad’s work and the outstanding attention and care I received, I can still walk and work. In Costa Rica the German trained surgeon I had seen wanted to chop off my foot because of the danger of gangrene. It has been refreshing to remember those days in 1968-69.
      Thank you.
      David Mendocino

      1. Dad retired after years of private practice and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. His address and phone number are public information. I’m glad to hear he took good care of you. I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing from you.

  31. Thanks Omar, I would appreciate some current photos. Herrick Heights is on the road that leads up Ancon Hill from Gorgas Hospital, the same road leads past the courthouse. Our house was the first one after the first curve up, with the jungle directly across the street, and we overlooked the city. There was a large vacant field adjacent to us where the limos brought tourists to overlook Panama City. If you continued up our street, past the mango trees, there was a walkway we called the bamboo trail that led down to the old Gorgas Hospital and on to the fishbowl. We left when the junta overthrew Arias, and were staying in the Tivoli when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. It was a magical time and place. Thanks again for anything you can do.

  32. Profesor Upegui.
    Que placer encontrarme de casualidad con un post tan interesante como este escrito del Hospital Gorgas. Para los que no vivimos esa época nos nutre de conocimiento necesario para quienes vivimos en esta tierra.

    Casualmente estoy buscando información del Hospital y usted tiene todo un artículo dedicado. Toda una sorpresa.

    Sepa que siempre lo he admirado por su actitud de empeño para hacer las cosas bien y por su forma correcta de expresarse.

    Mis padres Lesiel y Eduardo lo felicitan por la iniciativa del Blog y le recuerdan siempre.

    Lizet Villavicencio

    1. Hola Liz:

      En realidad vivimos un un mundo muy pequeño donde todos nos conocemos. Me alegra muchísimo que le haya gustado Lingua Franca. Muchas personas, al igual que usted, han encontrado información pertinente sobre este legendario hospital en la entonces Zona del Canal de Panamá.

      Muchos saludos a sus padres, Leslie y Eduardo. Siempre la recuerdo como una excelente estudiante en ULACIT. Muchas gracias por sus palabras de aliento y estímulo.



  33. Lovely pictues of Gorgas Hospital! My mother was a nurse there in the late 1920’s before moving on to work in Peru. As a child in the early 1940’s I spent some time in the hospital with trench mouth as we were traveling from Peru to the US and my Mom stopped to get me treatment in a familiar place.

  34. Okay…here are my memories of Gorgas Hospital. While my father was stationed at Ft. Kobbe, I managed to fall off my bicycle, breaking my left arm. I was taken to Gorgas for xrays and treatment. I remember being giving an injection for pain, and that was my first ‘whoo-hoo’ experience (I was 11 years old). I was admitted to a mixed pediatric ward where I was in traction, and required a lot of assistance. I remember lying awake at night and the view from the windows across from my bed were spectacular. I feel my care there was great! I had to return for several months for physical therapy, and feel that I had great care and service.

  35. I was at Ft Kobbe on Officer’s Hill between 1979 – 1982, My father was an Army Chaplain. I delivered my first son in Gorgas Army hospital. Attended Balboa High & 1 year at Curundu JHS, Anyone out there that lived at Kobbe those years?

  36. Hi Omar…
    Great photos recall happy memories. I’m Gorgas born (1937) and BHS graduate, Class of 1954. Here’s a memory for your collection: When I was an Ancon Elementary School student my dog got a fish hook caught in her toe. I carried her to the Gorgas Hospital admitting desk, and was subsequently ushered into a waiting room. Soon a doctor came in and he forced the hook completely thru the toe. He then cut off the barb and backed the hook out. I left after saying, “Thanks”…and we both walked home.
    Ken Lee

  37. Nice website…brings back fond memories. I was an intern and resident at Gorgas from 1960 until 1967 and found it the best of my life’s experiences.

  38. Had my tonsils removed there in 1966.
    Was stationed US Naval Radio Station Farfan.
    My daughter is planning on moving to Panama, August
    next year. She fell in love with Panama after a tour in
    the Peace Corp. I might even follow her and live out
    the rest of my retirement is a lovely country.

    1. Hello John:

      Come on down. Many retired Americans are coming down for their Golden Years. Boquete, Bocas del Toro, David and Pedasí are hot spots here.

      Thanks for your comments.


  39. Hello Omar-

    Glad I found your web page. Gee, did it ever bring back memories of the past. I was stationed in Panama from 1978-1982. Like most everyone in the CZ, at that time, spent a little time at Gorgas Hospital. Having a very active 5 year old son….needless to say we had several visits. Our care was always top notch.

    Panama was my favorite military assignment, and the fishing was out of this world, not to mention the shopping, food, and night life.

    We visited El Valle (the volcano) and the black beach area many times (can’t remember the name), but it was fun.

    Thanks again for the memories.

  40. hi well I having a problem too need a birth certificate for my son who was born in gorge hospital in 1961 my husband was station in ft kobbe. great hospital my doctor were great. love panama . if anyone know where please let me know god bless

  41. A friend has a delima. Their son was born at Gorgas Hospital in 1973. Only a hospital birth certificate was issue. Now they are attempting to get him a passport and they will not issue one without an official government passport. How do you go about getting a birth certificate now that the hospital is in Panamian hands?

    Any help would be appreciated.


    1. Hi Tom:

      When the U.S. Department of Defense turned the Gorgas Hospital over to the Government of Panama, they took all files to their offices in the United States.

      I recommend that you address them for this birth certificate. No files were left behind.

      Best Regards,


  42. where can I find a phone number for the gorgas hospital or a courthouse in ancon panama canal for an original birth certificate?

  43. Good luck on finding CZ hospital records. I interned at Gorgas in 1979-80. This was during the initial handover and the Shah’s stay at Gorgas on Ward 11. One of the best experiences of my life. However, all records pertaining to this training are unlocatable (lost?) I have spent considerable time over the years contacting various military archives, canal zone commission, etc. No luck. Must be stored in the same gov warehouse as Indiana Jones’ lost ark.

  44. I just wanted to make a very brief comment about Gorgas Hospital. I was stationed in Panama from 1990 – 1993, at Marine Barracks. As I type this, I am getting ready to sleep, back in Panama for the first time since I left in 1993. With me, I have my 18 year old daughter, who was born at Gorgas.
    Her mother and I had a wonderful experience in every respect. I recently had another child, and I think the care received just over a year ago in a good U.S. hospital was certainly no better in any respect than that received at Gorgas.
    I also had another very unique personal experience at Gorgas. I was volunteering there during my last few months in service, while I awaited a medical discharge, in anticipation of pursuing a medical career (which I ultimately did…). I was helping in the ER, when a kind ER doctor noted some swollen lymph nodes in my neck. He implored me to come see him Monday morning, when he had time to give proper attention. He did so, and sent me right away by a specialist. I had the lymph node removed and biopsied within a few short days. During the workup, the doctor revealed to me, in a most compassionate way, that he feared this was lymphoma. He took the time to hear the fears of a new father who was 23 years old and completely naive of such a diagnosis, but who knew enough to fear demise from such a disease. The pathologic diagnosis proved the inflammation to be nothing significant, but in every step of the way, every one demonstrated sincere concern and devoted themselves compassionately to ensure that I was comforted and informed in every way possible.
    With those among several other very important experiences I had at Gorgas that were all very positive, I have the fondest of memories of my experiences there. I’m sorry for anyone who had a bad experience there, but I believe that must have been a fluke. Gorgas was a wonderful hospital during the time I was stationed in Panama, with people of the highest moral and professional caliber.

    Thank you again to all those who touched our lives there. I wish I could call you out by name!

  45. My only daughter, now 17, is fortunate to call this historical site her birthplace. I still call her my “Panamanian Princess” and she does not mind that I do so.
    Gorgas makes up many of my fond memories of Panama. Remember “I wash (watch?) you car – you gimme quara”?

  46. Be advised that such an e-mail does exist. its part of the state of Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. I am a Service Officer of The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
    Thank you for the very important information.

  47. I was born at Gorgas Hospital in 1943. Does anyone know if that makes me eligible for Panamanian citizenship as that was in Ancon, CZ, now Ancon, Panama. I am trying to trace down how to get my original birth certificate, as I think I only have a copy at this point. Anybody know?

  48. Hello! I too was born at Gorgas in 1983. I am extremely honored and exuberant that I am able to claim that. The pictures that were taken on this site are lovely, and I am thrilled to have learned more about my birthplace. Thanks for the ensight! I am looking forward to visiting again when my mother retires and moves back to her homeland. She saids that she is going to “live like a queen when she returns. 😉 ”

    PS: I too was having some difficulty in procuring an offical copy of my birth certificate, any help or advice is appreciated.

    All the Best

  49. Good evening Mr. Upegui
    I am currently studying about the Gorgas Hospital.

    I am very glad and proud that this monument was done in our country.

    My inquiry has to do with the people that use to go the this hospital ?

    Is this hospital was for only american people or also Panamamenian citizens were able to be hospitalized.
    I understand that during those years when military soldiers were here in Panama , there was a lot of Panamenian were borned how was that process.

    Thank you

    1. Hello Professor:

      The Gorgas Hospital was a military hospital under the administration of the Department of Defense of the United States. It took care of all military personnel and employees of the Panama Canal Commission which was a federal agency under the Secretary of Defense.

      Those Panamanian citizens who were working for the Panama Canal Commission also had access to this military hospital. That was the process. It was restricted to those persons only.

      It was a first class hospital comparable to military hospitals in the United States. Now it is under the administration of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Panama.

      Best Regards,


  50. I interned in Gorgas Hospital in 1947-8, and have vivid recollections of those times. I was hired by the Panama Canal Commission, which was an independent agency like the Post Office. The Canal Zone and our hospital continued the segregation policies dating to the building of the Canal, when workers were paid in silver or gold. We had gold wards for white Americans and Europeans, and silver wards for Jamaican and Panamanian workers. There were also separate gold and silver commissaries. I do not consider this a military hospital, although the residents and Chiefs of service were in uniform; all of the interns were civilians, a surgeon and a nurse were Panamanian.

    1. Karen Hudson
      I lived on Ancon Hill as a child from 1945 to 1948. My memories are foggy, at best, but of interest to you, possibly, is that my father was EENT there at that time and my mother, an RN, worked there occasionally. They were Kenneth and June Hudson. Some names I remember were Shaeffer, Wright (OBGYN?) Conlin, Arias,Cressler. My younger brother was born at Gorgas in June of 48. We left shortly after that.

  51. My dad was a Captain in the US Army Air Corps when he was stationed at Gorgas Hospital 1938-1941. I attended Ancon Elimentary school ,1940-1941. We lived on Ancon Hill. My Dad was stationed in the Canal Zone (Albrook Field) 1945-1948. I attended Balboa Junior High, and Senior High. My favorite teacher was Mr Deering(sp). I attended Jungle Warfare School, and participated in several joint exercises. The most memorable was with the Columbians. WE crossed the Isthmus on the Huner Ligggett(SP), the Cuba, and I believe the Ancon. I believe Gen Clark used the Ancon as his headquarters at Anzio. Gee Whizz

  52. Iam a retired us army sergeant major i was operated on in GORGAS in 1964 for knee replacement and the service was georgious and very appealing and was so complete i did not have a complaint and the DR. was COL.METZ he was the greatess

    i was in the 4/20 inf at fort clayton and bunged up my knee at the training center up north
    anyone wants information on any thing in canal please email me

  53. Can anyone offer any information on R G Grocott. He was a histotechnologist working at the hospital in 1945. He worked on a special stain to identify and exhibit fungi and other microbs affecting the area at the time. The method is world renown and and is known as Grocott’s Methenenmine-Silver Nitrate Stain.

  54. Iwas stationed at Fort Clayton 1953-1954. My son was born in Gorgas Hospital. I was with the 903rd AAA Battallion and have not been able to find out anything about my former unit. We loved Gorgas Hospital and after being discharged my wife and I were planning to return as we had both received job offers if we returned, however we were told that there was a little problems going on at that time.

    Jim Elder

  55. Hi my name is murdock moore and i was born in 1973 at GORGAS HOSPITAL. cause my dad in panama i would like to learn more about this place, and to get my birth certificate from there .

    Thank you murdock

  56. Hi,

    how nostalgic to see the beautiful Gorgas Hospital again, I am a panamanian citizen but I live in constant nostalgia of the good ol’ zone days. I was born in 1968 @ Gorgas both my parents are panamanians and they worked for years for the US government. I am trying to find out if I could become a US citizen due to this fact.

    Thanks for the lovely article, will appreciate any comment in this regard.

  57. Yea, Gorgas was Great..! I had my Tonsils out, and Dr. Levit, did a great job..! I was nervous, as I was kept awake during the surgery. The Dr. came into the OR yelling, What Is The First Thing I use for this operation..? Someone in the OR said: “Your Voice”…funny stuff…After surgery they pushed me into the hall way and left me alone…finally a guy dressed in hospital clothes, said: “You feel like you had a telephone pole shoved down your Throat”..? I said: “Yea, Sideways” He was surprised that I had a sense of Humor, when I had just come out of surgery…I received flowers, from a friend, and they arrived the last day I was in Gorgas…I gave them to a little girl, who was in the next room having her adenoids taken out for the third time…so many memories…Wow…a few days later, I was at work, and decided to have a hot-dog off of the food wagon, that came to the Albrook Hanger where I worked. It was a bad idea..! As I got half way through my Hot dog, I started bleeding very badly…I believe I tore out some of my stitches…My Buddy, Fred, Drove me to Gorgas, where a young Dr. attempted to stop the bleeding…needless to say, he was un successful…it wasn’t long after that, when Dr. Levit showed up and Cauterized my throat..! Ouch..! The Dr. said: Here Henry, have some good oxygen, it will make you feel better…I didn’t feel better…just shaky…But all in all, I really liked Gorgas a lot…Great place for any kind of medical treatment…Henry.

  58. I was born at Gorgas Hospital in 1992.
    I was wondering if there was any way to find a birth announcement or anything stating I was born there?
    please, anything would help.

  59. Hi Omar…

    How fascinating it is to read these postings and see your amazing photos. I too was born at Gorgas Hospital on June 7, 1945. My father was a machinist during the War helping patch holes in ships coming through. My mother was a beautician and working in a local hairdressing salon during that time. We left when I was just 4 months old, shortly after the end of WW2, so I have no reccolection, but certainly a desire to “return” some day. Your photos and info have only increased that desire. I know Panama is and inviting place for retirees and I’ve heard that Americans born there might have some specialized incentives. I’ll be checking that out. Thanks again for all you have put into this site. We are blessed to have your passion and historical reference. Sincerely, Michael Williams, Bellingham, WA, USA email:

    1. Hi Michael:

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comments. I hope you decide eventually to live permanently in Panama. There is a large group of Americans retirees living up in the highlands of Chiriquí. They like the weather and the relaxed lifestyle of the Tropics. Since the American is the legal currency here, they feel almost as is living in the States.

      Please feel free to drop to this site anytime.

      Best Regards,


  60. Omar, thank you for such an interesting blog! I lived in Far Fan and Cocoli in the late 40s. Don’t remember having to go to Gorgas. However, my grandparents, great-grand mother and a cousin died there and are buried in Corozal American Cemetery. Although young, I remember the Canal Zone with fondness. I had many relatives there because my Grandfather Stroop came down in 1914 to help do the finish carpentering on the Administration Bldg. He also helped build the ??? steps down from the Admin. Bldg. He came back in 1917 with his family. My mother was raised there and met my father (Navy) there.

    I’ve noticed several requests for where to go for vital records from the CZ. Here is the website with the info they need:

    Please keep up the great blog.


    1. Hello Kaye:

      Everything you mentioned are still here, (e.g., Far Fan, Cocoli, the Gorgas Hospital, the Corozal American Cementery, the Administration Building, the steps in front of the building and many other sites in what used to be the Panama Canal Zone.

      Thank you so much for the link for vital records of the former CZ. I’m sure it will help many of our readers.

      Best Regards,


  61. Thanks so much for this memories, I born in Year 1948 in Gorgas Hospital, now in Spanish, Yo naci en el Hospital Gorgas en la antigua Zona del Canal, 1948 mi padre trabajaba en Corozal como Mecanico Tornero y despues en la divison de Electricidad. Mis mejores y gratos momentos eran el ir a visitar el area de trabajo de mi padre, la Zona del Canal y sus BX, NCO Club, One, Two Three, Canal 8 (Donde baile al programa Shindig) Balboa cafeteria, Teatro y sin dejar de mencionar los campos de Baseball donde jugue y fui uno de los que solicito la entrada a jugar a un equipo Panameño creo por 1967 a 1968 (Club de Leones) en el PAYAA donde conseguimos el sub campeonato de Baseball, perdiendo por Forfeit! contra Curundu ya que llegamos a las 11 del dia y el juego de Campeonato habia sido cambiado a las 10 de la Manana sin previo aviso. Recuerdo que jugabamos baseball contra Curundu, Clayton, Albrook, Rodman, Kobee. Mucha alegria sentia al ver como podiamos integrarnos y entrelazar amistades con otros jugadores de nuestra edad.
    Quiero terminar que fuera de haber nacido en el Gorgas Hospital, estuve internado cuando niño varias veces por problemas de los riñones y mi experiencia fue fabulosa…Mi madre siempre me habla muy bien de la atencio que me brindaron aun sin ser Norteamericano
    Gracias por esos bellos recuerdos

    1. Hola Humberto:

      Es Loretta (la Tia de tu hijo Gonzalo) veo que tienes bellos recuerdos del Gorgas Hospital en donde mi madre era pediatra y mi padre fue medicina interna y cirugia. y mi padrino cardilogo. estuve en Panama el año [asado y fue un mezcla de emociones, entre alegres y tristes. alegres por estar en Panama despues de 21 años y triste de tener tan bellos recuerdos y ver que ya las cosas no son iguales, pase por por la calle Loro Place a ver la casa #530 donde vivi y ahora es una casa regular pintada rosada lo unico igul era la iglesa del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus donde fui bautizada. Tengo mucho recuerdos bellos del Gorgas donde estuve internada muchas veces de niña y en donde trabajaba en pediatria para mis vacaciones de escuela. Todos esos Buenos medicos que praticaban alli abrieron sus propios consultorios o se fueron al Hospital Paitilla a la hora de la entrega del Canal. Quien fue tu peditra cuando estuviste alli? Saludos y Abrazos. Lore. (Canada).

  62. I was a child when, in 1980, I was diagnosed with Wolffe Parkinson White Syndrome, after a routine physical to attend school at Balboa Elementary. I spent the next two years having ECGs and treatments at Gorgas Hospital and had all but forgotten what it looked like. Thank you so much for posting these beautiful pictures! It’s a missing piece of my childhood, as my worried parents never took photos of the place I visited every two weeks for two years.

      1. Hey Omar. I don’t suppose you have any pictures from what was Quarry Heights? That’s where we were stationed 1979-1982. There was a house, second from the last on the upper level that burned down in 1981. That was our house and unfortunately, our fire too. Do you have any pictures if it now? Would love to see what’s been done with it, as I hear they cleared it years ago.

  63. Hello Jamie:

    Unfortunately at this moment, I don’t happen to have any pictures of that area in the former Canal Zone. However, I could drop by anytime and capture what is still there. Please stay tuned.



  64. Developed several stones while stationed at Howard AFB 1982-1985. Spent several weeks in Gorgas, best care ever. During one stay my buddy’s wife was downstairs giving birth, I got to meet his sone before he did.

    Once I received a panicked call from my wife. My son had fallen in the bathtub at night and smashed his teeth. He was taken to Gorgas and they called the on call dentist. I rushed over from Howard worried my son would be scared. When I arrived I heard his laughter coming from the one lit doorway on the dark hall. The medic on duty had given my son the water sprayer and was taking cover while being playfully sprayed.

  65. I am looking for information regarding death certificates, I am looking for my ancestor Fidencio Ramos who died at Gorgas Hospital in 1946. There seems to be no paperwork left about the causes of his death, does anyone knows where can I find something???

    Thank you!

  66. Amelia
    My grandfather (Vida Moreno) worked at Gorgas Hospital and actually passed away at that hospital about 1955. Do you know if there are any archives of employee photographs? It’s like finding a needle in a hay stack. I have his work ID that he utilized back then when he was employeed by Gorgas, but it’s not very clear. Hoping you can direct me to the right source. Thanks


  67. Hello everyone. I worked at the OG/GYN clinic (1996-1997) at the Gorgas hospital and can say that it was the best place to work. All the nurses and doctor were the best. It was the best job ever. Thank you for all the pictures I really enjoyed them. I miss Panama.

  68. Thank you so much for the pictures! I was born in the Gorgas Hospital June 1963. I was there again after being attacked by a dog in 1968. My father was in the FAA, I have very fond memories of Panama and can’t wait to visit again one day!


    1. Hello Penny, I’m an architecture student here in Panama and I am looking for some information about the FAA building here (starting operation year, some descriptions) Can you help me in this please?

      Have a nice journey!
      Thank you.

  69. Omar,

    Thank you for your committment to this wonderful facility. Do you know if it is possible to retrieve my Dad’s medical records from the early 1950’s when he was hospitalized at Gorgas. Thanks.

  70. Hello Andrews:

    I’m sorry to advise that this information is no longer available in Panama after the Panama Canal treaties. Suggest you contact the Department of Defense in Washington,D.C. directly.

    Best of luck,


  71. What is your mailing address (if this is the one that used to be US Army Hospital)?

    Let me know. I need this address so I can put it in my disability form. I used to be seen over there for therapy.

    Thankl you.

  72. My sister-in-law was born here in 55. How can she get a legal copy of her birth certificate? Any suggestions would be helpful. I live in CA and she lives in FL.

  73. I need to make contact with the office-people in the clinic who drew my Hg & promised to send the Hepatitus C Viral-load quantitative-count via my e-mail in April (which as of now–June 20th–have not recieved). Please help me as I Need to find-out the count as of early March 2012. MUCHO THANKS ANYONE OUT-THERE!!!
    My e-mail (once again) is

  74. How to order a Birth Certificate from the Canal Zone (anybody born in the Canal Zone can also apply for Panamanian citizenship)

    The DS-1350 or a replacement FS-240 can be obtained by writing to:

    Vital Records Section
    Passport Services
    1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510
    Washington, D.C. 20522-1705

    A written request must be notarized and must include a copy of valid photo identification of the requester. The written request must include:
    (1) full name of child at birth (plus any adoptive names)
    (2) date and place of birth
    (3) names of parents
    (4) serial number, if known, of the FS-240 (on those issued after November 1, 1990) if known
    (5) any available passport information
    (6) signature of requester and
    (7) notarized affidavit for a replacement FS-240 (if applicable).
    Note: For Panama Canal Zone (PCZ) birth certificates, just include items (1) through (3).

    The fee for an FS-240 is $30. The fees for DS-1350 and PCZ certificates are $30 for the first copy, $20 each additional copy. Make check or bank draft drawn on a bank in the United States, or money order, payable to the “Department of State.” The Department will assume no responsibility for cash lost in the mail. Documents will be provided to the person who is the subject of the Report of Birth, the subject?s parents, the subject?s legal guardian, authorized government agency, or a person who submits written authorization from the subject of the Report of Birth

  75. My sisters and I were born in Gorgas Hospital in the early 1950s. My youngest sister born in June, 1955 died shortly after her birth; she never left the hospital. Since my parents never had a copy of her death certificate, I wrote to the Vital Records Section of the Passport Services to get information. They were able to provide birth information but nothing about her death. Makes me all the more curious. Any idea how to go about getting death records. The National Archive has mortuary records for Gorgas dating back to 1906 but is missing seven years including 1955.

  76. I was a LTC in the army when stationed at Gorgas 1979-1982 as the only oral/maxillofacial surgeon there. We lived at the top of the road up
    Ancon hill, ? Herrick rd? Had a great view of the bay and Panama City and Paitilla. I could walk to the hospital down through the bamboo forest. We had a live in maid, totally spoiled my wife and kids, and me also. Are those homes still there? I had a water color picture painted of our view before we left. It now hangs over my mantel in our home in SC. My three years in Panama were only exceeded in granduer by the two spent in Hawaii.

      1. Dear Sr. Upegui

        In the course of looking up info on an upcoming visit to Panama, we came across the Gorgas site. We are hoping you are still doing this.

        I served in the Canal Zone with the 4th Missile Battalion (Air Defense) at Fort Clayton from 1961-1963 and, because of my (low) rank, lived in the city on Avenida Belisario Porras (Via Porras) with my wife and eventually two daughters – both born at Gorgas. My wife was an R.N. at Gorgas during this period and was thrilled to see the photos of her workplace.

        We consider our experience in Panama to be an invaluable time and the Panamanian folks we lived with (as renters) wonderful people. Although we first regretted the fact that I did not qualify for U. S. quarters, we came to realize that we really had the best experience living where we lived.

        My wife worked with some great people at Gorgas, including Dr. Teodoro Arias – of the presidential family.

        I hope that you receive this, since we don’t do Facebook and the rest of the popular social media.

        W. Robert (Bob) Smith

      2. Hello Robert and Florence:

        Thank you for your interesting comment in my blog regarding your relationship with the Gorgas Hospital and the former Panama Canal Zone. I think you were fortunate in living in Panama City and not inside the Canal Zone. This situation gave you the opportunity of having a better understanding of the lifestyle and culture of Panama City and its inhabitants. You would have been deprived of this wonderful social opportunity if you and your family had resided inside the perimeter of the Canal Zone interacting with the same American culture which you already know so well because you are yourself an American. It would have been more of the same.

        I’m sure you treasure the time you spent in the neighborhood of San Francisco de la Caleta. Knowing the culture of other countries is a unique and rewarding experience impossible to forget.

        Warm Regards,


    1. I’m wondering the same thing: are the old homes still there? I grew up there in the 60s, when our father ran the orthopaedic department at Gorgas. Our house was adjacent to a huge field of saw grass and the limosines brought the tourists from the ships to a spot just up from our yard to show them the view of the city and the bay. I would love to see a photo sequence going up the hill to see what’s up Herrick Heights Road now. Date: Sun, 23 Sep 2012 02:43:37 +0000 To:

      1. Hi Brock, right now I ive in Miami, I’m Panamanian born in Canal Zone 1948, so many things changes in Ancon, Balboa Amador, close to your grew up area.I travel every 45 to 60 days back home, and believe me, I enjoy driving around and remember old times, I play basebal for the PAYAA, Curundu, Clayton, Kobee, Rodman, Albrook Field, Howard etc. If have you chance, fly to Panama, you will see the changes and walk around Gorgas Hospital, place where I born July 1948.
        By the way, I study Elementary, High school and University in Panama City. good luck

  77. My name is Donald Mark Sanders.I was born in Gorgas Hosp. March 18th 1962.My birth certificate has a photo on the front of it.If I m not mistaken,Sen. John McCain was born there also.What has happend to the buiding today?I want to google earth the imagery.Please contact me with further info at :….Thanks so much….Donald

  78. I was born in Gorgas. My parents took me there from everything between my cough syrup to emergency care after a car accident at the beach. I was very mischievous growing up and got my fair share of casts, slings and bandages. What I wouldn’t give for another visit to the ol’ hospital after fracturing my knuckles on RICK’S face for making such an idiotic comment! The care was excellent, and we never went to any other hospital.

    1. Anyone have info on the existing building?I still have my Gorgas birth certificate with Pic of Hospital on the front and my newborn footprints on the back.I still use it to update my US passport.If im not mistaken, I have dual citizenship…LOL….Regards , Donald

  79. My mother, Helen Hughes MacKay, was a nurse at Gorgas Hospital 1926-1928. When I was two years old, in 1944, we were on a ship passing through the Canal Zone from Peru to New York. I developed trench mouth so she disembarked from the ship and took me straight to Gorgas Hospital where I was admitted and treated. I returned there in 2004 and had a great visit for two weeks which included a taxi ride to Gorgas Hospital.

    My great grandfather, Daniel Fairfield, worked on the Canal as a millright in 1906 and was there when Teddy Roosevelt visited. He worked at Gorgona.

  80. Well, I still have not been able to locate my sister’s death certificate from Gorgas Hospital in 1955 but I am so very glad I found this blog. Love reading about people’s memories in Panama Canal Zone. I was 5 years old when we left there so don’t really have my own memories of Panama. Looking forward to some day being able to travel there. Thank you for sharing your photos and memories!

    1. Sorry to hear of your frustration in locating your sister’s death certificate. I guess all those records were relocated at some point. I was born at Gorgas in 1945…and thankfully still retain my certified birth certificate. Wouldn’t know what to do if I needed to replace it. Omar has done a great job with this blog, and its terrific to hear from others associated with Grogas. Humberto Aleman, born there three years after me, wrote to me from his home in Florida, even sent me a Florida License plate with “Canal Zone” on it…a real collectors item. Thanks, Humberto. I left Panama at age three months when my parents brought me back to the US to Illinois, where I grew up. After my career in radio broadcasting and management took to to Dallas, Miami, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Seattle…I’m now running radio stations in Bellingham, WA up near the Canadian Border. Thanks for your post. Sincerely, Michael O’Shea Williams, email:

      1. Kaye, Thank you for the link. I did get information on my sister’s birth. but not a death record. Just curiosity, really, I don’t need to have it but have always wondered what happened to her. Anyway I do really enjoy hearing about the Canal Zone!

    2. There seem to be a few sites that are at least “leads” to getting documents from US government agencies that now have the originals of old certificates. Some of these sites have a search method to see what information is available, but the agency whose database they index can (generally for a reasonable fee) provide an official copy of some documents. There are a couple such links above, and here are more:


  81. Thanks for all the information about Gorgas Hospital. I was in the Navy and stationed at Rodman Naval Base. Our first Son was born at Gorgus Hospital on Nov 19, 1960. My wife and I thought it was a great place. We were in the Canal Zone from 1959 to 1961.

  82. Born at Gorgas in 1973. Don’t really remember much about it. Did some weird stuff happened in Panama in the early 70’s?

  83. I had my 3rd child at gorgas hospital the care I received was excellent.
    My kids and me got the best care at gorgas.

  84. I think I was born here. My mother is Panamanian and my father was in the U.S Army. I was born in 1980 in Ancon. I was adopted here in the States, so I never knew the name of the hospital or anything else about Panama.

    By looking at these pictures, it is beautiful. I would like to go someday.

    This is a part of whom I am.

    1. I may have delivered you. I was a physician working at Gorgas 1979-80 and delivered almost 100 babies. Years later I met one of those babies working as a physical therapist at a hospital I had just started at. That will make you feel old. My years and time at Gorgas were the best of times. We worked very hard, played hard, and stayed healthy.

  85. Interesting site, I had a friend that worked at Gorgas as a nurse in the early 90’s, her first name was Delcie/ Cindi but i cant remember her last name, she was from Panama appx 20 years old and she spoke fluent english, trying to figure out how to find her after all this time. ive looked thru some of the white pages listed on the internet

    1. @Law: Yours is a tough quest! It’s been 20 years & no apellido! Still, your novel attempt to use a unique forum like Lingua Franca has a chance. If no success in your investigation may I make a suggestion? Take a break and spend a week in Panama City. It will take effort, but you may get your wish!

      1. I am not sure if that was her last name, she was absolutely beautiful, should have been a model, she has a sister named Laura..still hoping

  86. This hospital is now named Instituto Oncologico de Panama. It’s a CANCER TREATMENT AN BLOOD DESEASE CENTER. I’m a Panamanian my self living in the U.S. I wasn’t born in this hospital but always heard great things about it. My mother will have surgery next month at this hospital, so I have to fly home.

  87. Can you help please?

    As part of my ongoing research into my father’s time in the Merchant Navy, I have recently ascertained from him that he spent time in Balboa receiving treatment for an infected leg wound at an American Army Hospital.

    My father (William Frederick Champion) was discharged from the SS [i]Hazelbank [/i]in Balboa, Panama on the 28 August 1947. He remembers spending quite sometime convalescing, but can not remember for how long, or even the location of the hospital.

    I am particularly interested to find out any information regarding his time in Hospital, his discharge papers, the Hospital location etc. Would the hospital have been Gorgas Hospital?

    Any information which provides an insight to my father’s time spent in hospital would be appreciated.


  88. I was born in the Gorgas Hospital while it was still named the Ancon Hospital, in July of 1927.
    My family lived in the C.Z. from 1925 – 1928. Fort Clayton/Corozal. Anybody else still around from then
    who also lived/remembers Fort Clayton/Corozal.

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