an organization meeting of employers and workers. Officers were
elected, by-laws were adopted, and a little later the society then and still
known as Centro Espanol (Spanish Club), the first of several similar
clubs now flourishing, was chartered as a non-profit corporation for
social-fraternal purposes, with socialized medicine as its chief function.
Even before that in 1887, according to Adelberto Ramirez, an
early Spanish settler of Ybor City, a Dr. Guillermo Machado had
organized here a small private medical group called La Igual (The Equal)
to whom he gave medical services for 50 cents a week per member. And
several old residents of Ybor City agree that in 1888 El Porvenir (The
Future), a similar association was formed with monthly dues of $1.25.
Le Igual disbanded after Centro Espanol was established, most of its
members joining that society. El Porvenir still is in operation, though on
a lesser scale than regular clubs.
Thus Tampa launched an experiment in group medicine in
America, and surviving produced a number of such societies which have
had a growth and success that more than justified the experiments.
While the system of mutual medical aid adopted in Tampa was
copied basically from similar societies, existing in Havana, Cuba, since
1879, it is believed that the Tampa Latin associations were the first in the
United States to establish voluntary socialized medicine. It is also
believed these medical aid groups have continued in successful operation
longer than any others in this country.