The Latin American Mission started a project in Costa Rica in 1921. Several missionaries from different countries came to this country with the goal of helping the neediest. Mr. Henry Strachan, a Scottish national, and his Irish wife, Susan Strachan, joined this noble cause, after serving for 17 years in Argentina as evangelical missionaries.
Upon their arrival to Costa Rica, they were particularly moved and extremely concerned by the deplorable condition of the local healthcare system. Their main concern was pediatric healthcare, after discovering that out of one thousand infants born in one year, three hundred and fifty-five were going to die, 50% before reaching five years of age. Malnutrition and abandonment were the main problems that besieged infants at that time, and there was only one hospital, Hospital San Juan de Dios, which could provide care for only a portion of the ailing population. With regard to health in general, the average life expectancy was just forty years old, and common diseases included tuberculosis and malaria.
Upon viewing such a bleak panorama, the Strachans decided to bring relief to the neediest, the poorest, and in particular children. They devoted themselves to provide free medical services to these persons and founded Hospital Clínica Bíblica, to be managed by the Latin American Mission. The original idea consisted in opening a pediatric center, but in the course of time it became necessary to provide maternity and surgical services too. In this way, the Strachans assumed this as a challenge and were successful in building a maternity ward, surgical facilities and a Nursing School.
By 1968, significant progress had been achieved in national healthcare. The infant mortality rate had been reduced considerably. Nurses were receiving excellent training at a professional level and there were special top-quality programs for maternal care and post-surgical treatment. There was also a network of good hospitals, associated to Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (Costa Rican Social Security Administration), such as Hospital Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia and Hospital México.
In this new and fairly encouraging context, the Latin American Mission considered that it has achieved its goal and that they should move on to help others as much in need as the Costa Ricans were at first. On the other hand, the Mission did not have any financial resources to continue such an altruistic work. This meant the closing of Hospital Clínica Bíblica, which had been maintained until then with outside assistance. There were ample facilities, first-class medical personnel and excellent technology. However, it was impossible to continue working without financial aid.
In view of this difficult situation, a group of Evangelical businessmen, represented by engineer Enrique Cabezas, decided to ask the missionaries to allow them to organize an association that would continue managing the Hospital. Missionary David Howard accepted this proposal on behalf of the Latin American Mission, leading to the organization of Asociación de Servicios Médicos Costarricense (ASEMECO – Association of Costa Rican Medical Services) in 1968.
ASEMECO associates decided to continue with the original purpose of Clínica Bíblica and ratified their intention to provide healthcare to the neediest. However, being in need of becoming financially self-sufficient, ASEMECO decided to “sell” its services to those who could pay for them, thus allowing the hospital to use such profits and continue taking care of the poor.
Currently, the Social Action Programs of Hospital Clínica Bíblica are at the core of the purposes set forth in the Articles of Organization of ASEMECO. One third of all profits of Hospital Clínica Bíblica are allocated to such Social Action Programs.