Jackson Evolves to Support the Immigrant Community
The 1960s through the 1980s was a crucial period in Miami’s history, with an influx of immigrants from
Latin America coming to South Florida seeking economic and socio-political freedom.
The Spanish-speaking staff at Jackson Memorial was limited and, at times, other guests or volunteers
would translate between the medical staff and patients, which often created miscommunication. The
need for translators became noticeable to a group of employees who would later become part of
Jackson’s first Latin Affairs Department, established in 1976.
When Cuban-born Maria Elena Toraño’s son Eric came close to death because of a blood clot, physicians at
Jackson Memorial provided him with lifesaving care. This encouraged her to become the Latin Affairs
Department’s director. Also Cuban-born, Maria Rosa Gonzalez-Carrero became Jackson’s first salaried
interpreter in 1973, and later the associate director of the department.
The purpose of the Latin Affairs Department was to assist in language interpretation, improve the
hospital’s relationship with Miami’s growing Hispanic community, and to market Jackson to Latin
In 1981, Miami-Dade County passed an anti-bilingual ordinance declaring English the official language.
That caused Jackson’s Spanish-language programs to be restructured. The ordinance was later repealed
in 1993, with the Dade County Commission declaring that only medical information needed by a patient
could be translated into that person’s native language.
Dec. 1980 Jackson History
Jackson Fights the AIDS Epidemic. Link opens story page.
Physicians from all over the world wanted to learn about the research and HIV/AIDS educational programs that allowed Jackson to be at the forefront in the fight against AIDS .Explore in story page.
Sep. 2013 Miracle Stories
Boating Accident Nearly Paralyses Young Woman. Link opens story page.
In September 2013, Danielle Press suffered life-threatening injuries in a boating accident off the coast of Key Biscayne – the very place where her father is police chief.Explore in story page.
Feb. 2018 Employee Stories
Fighting the Unknown. Link opens story page.
More than 30 years ago, Miami became the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. When the first patients came to Jackson Memorial Hospital in the 1980s with this unnamed disease, I was a young doctor, fresh out of residency, at the beginning of my career.Explore in story page.