Rogério Ramos, born 67 years ago in Espinho, realized very early on that medicine was reserved for him. “Since I was a kid, I knew I was going to be a doctor. My father and other family members were too. He had a nickname when he was a kid: they called me Doctor”. A year or so ago he retired from the public service, where he coordinated the Silvalde Family Health Unit.
The question is trivial, but if you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?
I just wanted to be a doctor since elementary school. I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and the answer was immediate. On the ground floor of my parents’ house there was an insurance company that had a permanent nurse for the treatment of accidents at work. Will this have influenced my professional choice? I don’t know. My father was a doctor, but that is not why I chose the same profession.
Born near the hospital…
I don’t know why on earth, but I was born at home. I lived in front of the hospital, which at that time was on 8th Street, between 11th and 9th streets, and where my father worked. My father crossed the railroad and jumped the wall, avoiding the passage of 7th street or passing through 19th street. However, there was a phase, at age 19, that changed my life, when my father died. And then, until I was 25, I did everything, studying and working. I never wavered.
Did you bend over backwards to “make a living”?
I sold collections of records and books. I made some reasonable money. I never hesitated, even for a second, because I had to work to continue studying. I never stopped studying for even a year, but it is clear that the difficulties were many.
It was necessary to face life and overcome adversity…
I couldn’t hesitate or sit still and wait for things to happen. He even taught classes at [Cooperativa] Source. I had been teaching at Externato Oliveira Martins, but then I joined a group of colleagues and mentored a teaching project at Nascente, with tutoring and evening classes for the former 5th year. Our students took the same exams as students who regularly attended the official and day school. They weren’t special exams or so-called new opportunities. They had to be well prepared for the exams that were done in schools. Our students paid a monthly fee that was calculated based on what only had to be paid to the teachers. I was there for two or three years teaching science.
Do you have any special memories of this semi-teaching activity?
There are funny stories. They were people older than me. I was already on duty at the Policlínica de Espinho and an elderly couple only asked for my services, and before seven in the morning. They lived on Ponte de Anta and I had taught their daughter, who was older than me.
Before or after seven in the morning, wasn’t availability exhausting?
I never felt tired. My cell phone number has been the same since the early days of cell phones, and I have always given the cell phone number to my patients. All my patients, before I retired, had access to my cell phone, even those at the Health Center. They called me Saturday, Sunday, morning, afternoon and evening. And they still call me today. I understood, and I continue to understand, that it was and is my job. Tired?! Not.
Didn’t you get tired, for example, when accumulating services?
Not even when performing emergency services at home. I worked seven nights a week and continued to work during the day.
But, quoting the people, tiredness doesn’t hurt, but grind…
Yes, but that was in other times when I was younger and took every minute I could to sleep and rest. And now?! I don’t feel anything either. I have no pain here and there. Fortunately, for now, my health is nothing special.
When did you give up working in the emergency department?
I stopped doing emergency work twenty-something years ago. I made the troops and returned to Espinho, to the Health Center. I also did emergency service at Hospital de Espinho. He was a worker. I volunteered and the hospital hired me.
After training in Medicine in Porto, he began his professional practice at the Capuchos and S. José Hospitals, in Lisbon, and also studied Occupational Medicine and was invited to the Fosforeira…
And I was one of the last to close the door. It was a company with exceptional conditions. And that was the case for a long time, because in the 1930s there was already a doctor, kindergarten and baby bottles, which were benches with partitions where the employees came to breastfeed the children they had at the day care center. This is luxury these days. When I joined, in 1986, there were 250 workers. But before that, there were already 700. Fosforeira was Espinho’s biggest employer. Currently they are the Chamber, the Casino and Eurospuma.
What motivated you to transform the Silvalde Health Center into a Family Health Unit?
I was old enough to be sensible at 64, but I designed and defended the creation of the Silvalde Family Health Unit. I convinced myself, and I am still convinced, that this project would result in a better health service for the population. We had face-to-face consultations during the pandemic period. It’s working much better.
Article available, in full, in the edition of August 25, 2022. Subscribe to the newspaper that shows you Espinho inside for only €32.5.