San Diego hospital was short-lived

A post on our Facebook Page about a new hospital in San Diego generated a great deal of interest, which encouraged me to do a little more digging about the hospital. Interestingly, much of the information about the San Diego hospital came from the Benavides Facts.

Dr. Armando Duran

It is not clear when Dr. Armando Duran came to San Diego, but it was most likely no earlier than 1930, as he is in San Antonio in the 1930 Census, living with his wife Emma and two sons, Armando, 1, and Sergio, a newborn. He was born in Mexico in “about” 1897 or 1898 and came to the United States in 1929, arriving at the port of Laredo.

The earliest mention found of Dr. Duran in San Diego was in October 1933 in the Texas State Journal of Medicine, where he is listed as an “Infection of the foot” doctor. During upcoming years he got very involved in the community, serving on the board of the Brooks-Jim Wells-Duval Medical Society, was Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus; was a member of the Duval County Parole Board; and served as chairman of the President’s Birthday Celebration, which raised funds to stamp out infantile paralysis.

Several FB readers thought the hospital’s location might have been behind the Appraisal District. They may be right. The 1932 Sanborn Maps of San Diego shows a “Drugs” building at the corner of Center and King. The only other drugstore was the one owned by Bruno Rios, and later by Donato Serna.

Several Facebook readers wondered when the hospital opened, where it was located, and when was it closed. Plans for the hospital were in place as early as January 1939. The hospital was located at the City Drug Store building, which was converted into a clinic. Plans called for the Regis Drug Company to purchase the supplies of City Drug. San Diego contractors A. Benavides and Ramon Garcia were given the contract for the building of the hospital.

Although, it appeared to be a well outfitted facility and manned by adequate staff, it did not stay in operation for long. In March 1939, the Benavides Facts reported that new equipment for the hospital had arrived and it would open soon. The facility was scheduled to be able to accommodate ten patients at a time. It had separate obstetrical and operating rooms. Adjacent to the hospital were doctors’ offices and a residence for nurses. Specialty and consulting physicians for eye, nose, throat, skin, bone, and other specialties would visit on a regular basis. Among them were Dr. Luis de Hoyos from Alice and later from San Diego and Dr. Lopez Lira from Benavides.

In June 1939, the Facts reported that the hospital had a busy week. Dalida Garcia and Mrs. De la Fuente  were operated for appendicitis and Mrs. Castaneda, Mrs. Jeuatio Salis, and Jesus Garcia, of Falfurrias, had “abdominal operations.” Manuel Martinez and Melodia Garcia were surgical patients and Elvira Garcia of Alice had a tonsillectomy.

Two days after Christmas in 1939, the San Diego Hospital had to deal with a tragedy that occurred in the community of Loma Alta in southern McMullen County off Highway 624. Two boys were playing near the school and darted into the highway and were struck by a car. They were rushed to the hospital where seven-year-old Santiago Garcia died of his injuries. His friend, Guadalupe San Miguel, was treated and released.

Clearly, the hospital was fulfilling its mission of serving the community.

The 1940 census still has the Durans in San Diego and the family had grown to include Armando, 11, Hugo (listed as Sergio in 1930) 10, Rodolfo 9, Evangelina 8, Minerva 7, Ramiro 6, and Rosario 3.

By September 1941, the hospital was apparently closed as the Duran family had relocated to Victoria. Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Salinas and daughters and Mr. and Mrs. Pat Gonzales visited the Durans in that city. The following month, on October 31, 1941, the family suffered a tragedy when their oldest son, Armando Jr., was swept up in a raging flood while returning home from school. Mrs. Duran’s mother, Maria Garcia, was among the many mourners from San Diego that made the trip to Victoria for the funeral services. Others attending from San Diego, included Mrs. J.C. Perez, Mrs. C. Garza, Mrs. T. Guerra, Mr. and Mrs. Felipe Ramirez, Servando Guerra, Pete and Marcel Saenz, Ramon Guerra. Mrs. Lewis Yaeger and Patsy Yaeger. Also attending were Mr. and Mrs. Caballero of Benavides.

The San Diego Hospital was short lived but in that brief period of service it was a valuable asset to the community.

5 Comments on "San Diego hospital was short-lived"

  1. Emilie J. Olivares | February 6, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Reply

    Thank you for a very interesting and very human story of life in San Diego before WWII, actually during the Great Depression. It is interesting that a doctor who was particularly concerned with “Infections of the Foot” also delivered babies. There were many functions for him to fulfill, but that was the progress that had to be made. Many women, including my grandmother, died in childbirth prior to that time.

    • alfredo@mcmbooks.com | February 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Reply

      Thank you Emilie. The use of midwives was also quite prevalent in those times. My grandmother was a “partera” and delivered many babies, including my nine brothers and sisters. She was too old by the time I came around so she yielded to Dr. Dunlap but was there to assist.

  2. Elvia Alaniz Stolzenburg | February 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Reply

    So lovely to hear Dr Dunlap’ name.
    He was such a gentleman and a great physician to so many people,
    Can you tell me if Clementine was his nurse’ name?
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Annie Hoffman-Read | February 17, 2018 at 11:28 am | Reply

    The San Diego hospital still stands in remarkably good shape considering it’s age. It has been a home for many years. You cannot miss it, 2-story Tampax box blue stucco on the 4th/5th lots of Dr. Dunlap Hwy. across Gravis St. Dr. Elliott was living in the same block as well as his daughter, son in law & granddaughter Patsy. The Yeager’s had a lovely home on the corner & there was Dr. Eliott’s home/office next door & with various outbuildings that took up half the block, west side. It is now the Appraisal Dist. property.

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