Co-operative healthcare as a vocation

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02.02.2017

Co-operative healthcare as a vocation

What I noticed about him the first day I met him in 2005 at the International Health and Co-operative Seminar was his friendliness, his approachability. Wherever he went, he was always welcome because of that affability and the appearance he gave of being able to get things done.

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It is not difficult to understand that his friendly personality must have not only opened doors for him from a young age but also prompted him to become a doctor, to dedicate his life to caring for others and later led to him becoming the director of a hospital and an international executive of the co-operative health care movement.

His medical studies in Seville and London led him to specialise in intensive care and, firstly, gave him the skills to manage the Santa Isabel Hospital in Seville successfully and then later, for 11 years, the outstanding Moncloa Hospital in Madrid.

His wife Rosa, who knew him better than anyone, described him as a gentleman, dedicated to his family and particularly to his children. He also had a great strength that remained throughout any illness and a professional commitment which went beyond the call of duty. In short, he was a man of great passion.

Dr Guisado was also a much-loved man, doctor and co-operative member, who left behind many people who felt grateful to him, particularly the trustees and staff of the Espriu Foundation. The news of his sudden death on 14 October had an enormous impact on all those of us who worked with him on a daily basis, but the flood of letters of condolence we have received at the Espriu Foundation and ASISA show that there was a whole host of other people who considered him as a friend and felt grateful to him as well.

The relationship between doctor and patient

In 2013, at the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO)’s General Assembly in Cape Town, I remember sitting with him on a panel discussion about participation when I was explaining the example of Barcelona Hospital. And I also remember at the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)’s General Assembly where he was appointed as a Board member, that every one of the national representatives (and there were more than 2,500 people there…) came over to him and greeted him and that he very kindly introduced me to all the delegates as President of the Espriu Foundation.

While Dr Guisado was running the hospitals and offering outstanding care to their patients, he was able to see the importance of a satisfactory doctor/patient relationship in practice. He was always aiming for the highest quality in health care and the co-operative structures of both ASISA and Lavínia gave him the opportunity to do this.

His friendship with Dr Espriu was born out of that conviction that the relationship between doctor and patient is sacred: Dr Guisado always agreed with Dr Josep Espriu in placing this relationship at the very heart of the healthcare system.

A co-operative standard-bearer

His close relationship with Dr Espriu resulted in his long-standing commitment to our foundation as the best context within which to develop the relationship between doctors and users is in co-operative healthcare. Dr Guisado was committed to co-operatives because he had seen not only the benefits of their healthcare structures at first but also the gratitude of thousands of doctors and patients.

Dr Guisado became the Espriu Foundation’s Executive Director and international representative after serving for a time as one of its trustees. For those of us who accompanied him on this journey, it was a delight to see how his personal skills, his professional career and his sense of vocation had given him the ability to transform the international co-operative system.

The representatives of Autogestió Sanitària and SCIAS which, together with those of ASISA and Lavínia, are members of the Foundation, always found in Dr Guisado an admirer of the system we have successfully put in place at Barcelona Hospital, a system that nowadays is visited by international co-operative members and is studied all around the world.

Dr Guisado spoke several languages, was a fine mediator, a person of great hospitality, and his friendly nature opened doors to the International Co-operative Alliance to all of us which was the best possible way of continuing Dr Espriu’s pioneering work. From his election as President of the International Health Co-operative Organisation in 2001 right up to his death, Dr Guisado successfully consolidated, extended and deepened the strength of co-operative healthcare.

He was well aware that the global spread of the health co-operative network meant better healthcare for thousands of families and the well-being of people throughout the world.

His death in Quebec, three days after once again participating in the gathering of representatives of health co-operatives from all round the world at the most recent International Co-operative Summit, itself demonstrates the strength of his vocation: co-operative health-care. José Carlos Guisado y del Toro lived to promote the co-operative ideal and through this a better relationship between doctors and patients. He was, therefore, working towards better health and well-being of millions of people.

We remember him with affection, friendship and immense gratitude.

Teresa Basurte
President of the Espriu Foundation

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