Southern Chile's legendary earthquake of 1960 killed hundreds of people and damaged countless buildings, including the Regional Hospital of Valdivia, where the three top floors of the eight-story building had to be closed.
Today, a state-of-the-art hospital has finally replaced temporary facilities that were built in the aftermath of the earthquake. The new hospital was one of four in northern, central and southern Chile built partly with funds from a $70 million IDB health services loan approved in 1991.
Completed early last year, the new Regional Hospital of Valdivia expanded its capacity from 529 to 649 beds, according to Fernando Román, an architect with the Chilean Ministry of Health who oversaw the project. "In the process we replaced practically all of our old medical equipment with state-of-the-art technology," he said.
The hospital now boasts a burn treatment unit, a neonatal facility capable of providing intensive care for up to 41 premature babies, and one of Chile's most advanced oncology centers, among other specialized capabilities. It also has an impressive collection of medical imaging systems, including a magnetic resonance imaging machine and sophisticated x-ray diagnostic equipment.