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Divine Providence Hospital assets and financial management

Created from scratch, the Divine Providence Hospital had a hard life in its early days. Through the book of income and expenses, which starts in March 14, 1796, it appears that the first money available for the Hospital came from alms donated by the Brothers of the Misericórdia and by devotees, ​​from public collections in town, and exceptionally, from the incomes of shows organized with that purpose.

In a few years, however, the incomes from alms and contributions will be replaced by revenues generated by interest. That is, the Hospital loaned the money coming from contributions or by selling donated properties, with favourable interest rates. In the economic year of 1821-1822, the revenue was of 799 776 réis, of which 365 416 réis (45.7%) from interest, and 84 650 réis (10.6%) from house rents. The Hospital fund, that in July 2, 1822 amounted to 12 589 961 réis, was all applied at interest.

Hence, the structure of the Hospital incomes reveals a modern facet that has nothing to do with the traditional revenues of the Misericórdia that founded it, since it was no longer based on legacies and pensions, but in its own assets and interest received from cash loans. The expense, in the mentioned economic year of 1821-1822, reached 703 ​​525 réis, of which 573 000 réis (81.4%) referred to the patients diet, staff salaries, used materials and pharmacy.

From the 1860s onwards, in terms of revenues, we found that the Hospital itself begins to have a relative weight that is not negligible, with the funds coming from the sale of drugs in its pharmacy and from the patients who had financial resources to pay for their admission, treatment and surgery.

The structure of the expenditure in the 20th century remained virtually the same – staff salaries, such as physicians, Franciscan sisters, nurses, etc., and food for patients.

But in the field of revenues, in addition to its own income – urban properties, perpetual income bonds, traditional inscriptions of interest, bonds and deposits, and donations – and the amounts received from local Municipal Councils for the treatment of poor local citizens, we find an increasing importance of the funding and subsidies granted by State agencies – primarily, the General Assistance Office, and later on, the General Welfare Services, the department responsible for the health of civil servants, the National Employment Service, the General Department for Hospitals – and by the Provincial Board, while it lasted. Besides, other revenues also increased, concerning drugs sold by the pharmacy, hospital treatments, medical exams, hospitalizations (paid through insurance companies or directly by the patient – 6 escudos per diem in 1930, 15 escudos in 1950), surgical interventions and consultations.

Therefore, the Hospital became profitable, so that the positive balances at the end of each year became a constant: 592 contos in 1930, 132 contos in 1947, 266 contos in 1948 and over 3 866 contos in 1973. In short, the Divine Providence Hospital, practically since its beginning, turned out to be the key for the financial balance of the Misericórdia of Vila Real.