Initial contribution to José's journey

Dr. José Azenha Cardoso was at Hospital Rovisco Pais as a general practitioner between 1982 and 1986. He recalls that at that time there were no longer many patients at the Hospital and that “most of them were institutionalized. They were people who had little or no family, socially separated, who had come there, some compulsively, others not, but who lost their roots in their original lands and therefore remained in the institution. There were some patients in the younger age group, but never younger than 30 or 40, and sometimes they stayed for some time and then returned to the community. Some, being sick, also lived outside the hospital, as there was a nucleus of patients nearby ”.


At that time, the existing patients were in the wards but there were still families in the houses of the family nuclei and Dr. Azenha Cardoso felt that on their part “there would be some resignation and complacency, (…) and even those who had become more marked by the disease – the older ones were not stigmatized, they were part of the community there and were at ease ”. He added that it was noticeable that “it had already been a large family and that at the time it was already a small family”, being evident “a good interpersonal, supportive and some fellowship with both the sick community and the employees”.


Regarding the assistance activity, it was concentrated in the internal community, consisting, as Dr. Azenha Cardoso says, “in giving daily support to the patients. There was a doctor scheduled every day of the week and at the weekend too, in the sense that there was 24 hours of medical assistance. And so we went through the infirmary to see if there were any complications in the area of general medicine, because in the area of leprosy and dermatology there were two doctors who ensured the specific activity of Hansen’s disease in the morning. From the beginning of the afternoon, hired doctors entered. In the late afternoon and night, as we did not sleep in the hospital, we were in the neighborhood of the employees and stayed on call ”. At the same time, they gave “support to employees, who needed a prescription, a consultation, but there was no external consultation. The Hospital did not function open to the community ”.


In 1986, Dr. Azenha Cardoso started specializing in stomatology and left the hospital. Currently, its activity is focused on the oncology surgical area.

Knowing that Hansen’s patients and their children, at the time when he worked as a leprosy, had been followed up in the stomatology specialty since 1950, we wanted to understand if it was still provided at the time he worked there, if he was aware of this activity and still understand to what extent there could be a relationship between this fact and the specialty that came next. To this question, Dr. Azenha Cardoso replied that this assistance was no longer carried out and therefore the choice of specialty was not related to these facts, which he was not aware of.


However, he shared what he thinks was the contribution that the passage through Hospital Rovisco Pais had in his professional life saying: “As a clinical experience, at a recently graduated time, everything is important, when we give it due importance. As a clinical course it was important because I worked in a sector where patients are often a bit ostracized and therefore there was a need to face this, in a view that it was a population that needs care like any other patient and therefore, it was understood and it is always enriching. Being at a stage and at an age when we still have little experience and little knowledge of either the profession or life, it becomes even more enriching, as it has given us a lot of framework for the future because we have learned to deal with patients. So I feel that it was a contribution that came at the right time, and that also helped growth as a person and as a doctor, without a doubt! ”


(Text based on oral testimony, in 2020, validated by the interviewee. Interview and writing by Cristina Nogueira – CulturAge)