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Good-bye Dr. Otto Rodriguez

Ambergris Today is saddened to announce the passing away of long-time resident doctor for San Pedro, Dr. Otto Rodriguez. He passed away on Thursday, May 12, 2011. The community of San Pedro has lost a very good doctor, a super good friend and an honorable Sanpedrano! May he rest in eternal peace and our condolences to his family.

Dr. Otto Rodriguez (affectionately known as Dr. Chapatin) was born, raised and married in El Salvador, graduated from a medical school in Mexico, and spent the greater part of his life in San Pedro, Belize. He moved to Belize in 1977 just at the time that the Lions Club of San Pedro was completing its Lions Clinic and in need of a doctor.
Dr. Otto accepted the invitation to be employed as the doctor with the Lions and thus became San Pedro’s very first resident doctor. As such he helped the community of San Pedro in numerous ways. First of all he provided the much needed medical and health services that were practically nonexistent.

Through his services, he saved the entire community the troubles and the big expenses of traveling to Belize City to seek medical attention. Furthermore Dr. Otto administered the drug store as well as arranged for visiting doctors from the U.S.A. to render their specialized services free of cost at the Lions Clinic.

It is safe to say that Dr. Otto has touched the lives of thousands of residents and visitors on the Island. He treated all kinds of ailments and diseases, received hundreds of newborns, certified hundreds of deaths, unfortunately including the death of his own son here in San Pedro.  

However what is outstanding about Dr. Otto is the fact that he was available 24 hours a day, every day of the week including Sundays and holidays. Dr. Otto received babies on Christmas Day with a huge smile of satisfaction. He was at your home at three in the morning wearing a T-shirt and again a smile of complacency. And whenever you said “Thank you”, he simply gave you a humble smile as if he was supposed to give you thanks.

Dr. Otto did everything in his powers to render his loving services to San Pedro. He joined the Lions Club and on numerous occasions he left meetings to attend to emergency calls. He was never able to enjoy a good dance as he had to leave to attend to a patient while his sons slept on a table in the dance hall at the Lions Den.  He traveled to the US to specialize so that he could administer the Hyperbaric Chamber and when he was certified, he worked double shifts, plus emergency calls.

For all of these and more reasons, San Pedro has fallen in love with Doctor Otto and has stood at his side as well. When his house was burnt down, the community put shoulders together to build him a home upstairs of the Lions Clinic. When he suffered his first heart attack, the community lovingly pooled together to render him much needed assistance. Dr. Otto has always bounced back with his labor of love for the community he loved and called his home.

His desire was to be laid to rest eternally in San Pedro so he shall exist in body here forever. And his name and spirit will be remembered for a long time by all of us whose lives he touched with loving care. We see the day when perhaps a health facility will be named in his honor because he truly deserves that honor so his name will live as a testimony of his love for San Pedro and humanity. Dr. Otto, thank you for your loving care, rest in peace eternally and live in our hearts forever.

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