History

Barceloneta is on Barcelona's waterfront. Here, and in the same place where, in the 16th century stood the "Health House", a quarantine centre for possibly contaminated persons from overseas, is today's Hospital del Mar, a general hospital that offers healthcare to the seaside area and old city of Barcelona.

The epidemics of cholera and yellow fever that struck Barcelona in the 19th century forced the City Council to build an isolation hospital in 1905. This is how the first part of what would become the Hospital of Infectious Diseases was built. It originally consisted of a number of rudimentary facilities, all on the same plot, on which the building of the current centre was constructed between 1929 and 1930. As its name indicates, the main function of this new Municipal Hospital was to combat the infectious diseases that continually afflicted the city of Barcelona due to its double status as a capital and as an important centre for maritime traffic.

After the Civil War, the Hospital was to play a decisive role in the treatment of serious epidemics such as those of smallpox (1940), exanthematous typhus (1941-1942), poliomyelitis (1950) and cholera (1971). During the dramatic increase in poliomyelitis in the 1950s, the Hospital centralised the fight against infectious disease, created a Poliomyelitis Service and acquired the first iron lung in Catalonia. Similarly, in the 60s and 70s, it was the main hospital for cases of tetanus and gas gangrene and was the first hospital to have a single hyperbaric chamber and the first to have an intensive care unit in Spain. Thanks to the progressive installation of new services throughout the 1970s and early 80s, the old infectious diseases hospital expanded, to become a centre with nearly all medical and surgical specialisations, including the first Unit for the Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts in the country.

The Hospital del Mar received public recognition and a great boost on 17th October 1986 when the International Olympic Committee decided that Barcelona would be the city chosen for the 1992 Olympic Games, and the Hospital was proposed as the main healthcare centre for the Olympic community.

  This date is remembered in the history of the Hospital, not only because of its recognised success in taking on the responsibility for the Olympics, but also as the starting point for its considerable architectural remodelling. This made it possible to offer a healthcare service of notable quality, and led to the new organisation of its activities and, therefore, improvements in comfort for both the public and professionals. In 1973, the agreement drawn up with the Barcelona Autonomous University, later to be renewed in the years 1990 and 2001, converted the Hospital del Mar into a University Healthcare Centre.

In 2008, the Hospital del Mar began renovations in order to modernise itself definitively. The renovation work, which has nearly doubled the space available, will allow us to concentrate services, increase out-patient areas (out-patient consultations and day hospital), reduce the number of trips that users have to make and improve the comfort of the rooms and waiting areas. It will also allow the professionals to work in new, more comfortable care areas, better suited to today's healthcare model.

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