Hospital Point, Bastimentos

Hospital Point, Bastimentos position map

Hospital Point is the closest tip of Solarte Key from Bocas del Toro town. Christopher Columbus sailed past here during his fourth voyage in 1502. Pirates and colonists arrived during the next 400 years, and the island became known as Nancy's Cay. In United Fruit Company medical files, "Nances Cay", is used. The Spanish name of the island is Solarte. The name "Nancy's Cay" was probably derived from the word "nances", which is the name of a fruit tree found on the island.

The United Fruit Company Hospital was on this site between 1899 and 1920. If you walk up into the forest, you will see the trade mark tiny red frogs. A small beach is suitable for a swim. And the reef at Hospital Point, just in front of the beach, is in very good condition. You can pay a local guide to take you into the forest to find the tiny poisonous frogs and also the graves from a century ago.

Several banana companies operated in Bocas del Toro towards the end of the 19th century. But by 1899 the giant United Fruit Company controlled all banana production in the region, establishing their main office in the city of Bocas del Toro. To ensure a healthy work force, the company built a hospital on the west end of Solarte, hence its name today Hospital Point. Hospital Point was the main hospital of the region and was run by the United Fruit Company. It was operated from 1899 until 1920, when its functions were transferred to Almirante on the mainland.

The hospital building in Bocas was opened on August 20, 1899. At that time malaria and yellow fever were common. In its first two years proved the mortality rate over 5%. The new building in Solarte, described as a principal hospital with an annex, was opened on June 23, 1900. Old photographs refer to this facility as "Quarantine Island". Before the hospital was built, this part of the island was inhabited by only a few creole families.

As well as the hospital and annex, there was also the Director's residence, a kitchen and a pharmacy. In 1904, a Hospital was built for the coloured people, a house for the Division Manager and another for the physicians. In 1914, a building for surgery, a laboratory, a pharmacy and an office, were added. The hospital buildings were on 8 hectare of land, 9 meters above sea level.

When the banana plantations on the islands and on the shores died from a fungus disease, the plantations here were abandoned. The Medical Center of Solarte was closed in 1920, he buildings were dismantled and the forest quickly took back the land. Recently private homes have been built here.

Today the remains of concrete columns and sidewalks of the complex can be seen. In the forest are several graves from this period. And in the sea just offshore, divers find ceramic items and bottles.On the western side of Hospital Point, where the main house is, there is a garden with species from all over the world, particularly a range of banana plants. Well manicured lawns surround the site. A series of well maintained cement paths join the beach area and buildings.

Bocas del Toro Information