So the boy decided to become a doctor and save other peoples’ lives.
Dr. Alberto “Al” Madrid’s poor hitting turned out to be a home run for Bee County.
The ball player wannabe opened a practice in Beeville earlier this month.
He is the only surgeon living in Bee County with privileges at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville.
“I used to like to play sports,” said Dr. Madrid, 63. “As a child, I loved baseball. I always tease my nurses and tell them that if I would have been able to hit a curve ball I would be playing baseball. I wouldn’t be in surgery.”
Madrid has been a practicing surgeon for more than 30 years now. Before moving to Beeville he worked in a small community close to Houston and before that he worked at a larger hospital in Houston itself.
He was born in El Savador but spent much of his early life in Mexico City before his family moved to California when he was still in his teens.
As a boy in Mexico City, he nursed injured animals back to health.
For a while, Madrid thought of becoming a veterinarian but after spending time at a local hospital, he thought he would find more satisfaction tending to people.
He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Mexico.
After medical school, Madrid interned at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio.
It was during his internship that Madrid decided to become a surgeon.
Surgeons, he explained, share a similar trait in that they enjoy immediate gratification. Whereas a doctor of internal medicine may spend months helping a patient recuperate, a surgeon can often fix a problem in a single afternoon.
“I like the satisfaction of seeing something wrong and fixing it immediately,” he said. “I like the immediate satisfaction of fixing something that is not working.”
Madrid earned his surgery degree at the University of Iowa and went into private practice in 1978.
Madrid is married to Elizabeth, or Liz, a nursing administrator at the Harris County Hospital District. They have two grown children, Jeff and Leslie, who live in San Antonio, and two grandchildren.
He was recruited to Bee County by Christus Spohn.
“I was looking for a position in general surgery within the Texas area and Beeville was attractive because, number one, it had a Christus Spohn hospital and I had been affiliated with Christus in the past,” he explained. “And second, because it was close to San Antonio — and with the grandkids living in San Antonio this was an ideal location.”
His wife still works in Houston so the two share the weekly commute, he said.
“As long as there is an airport close by, then that’s what we do,” he said. “Being in the military... (commuting long distance) is nothing unusual.”
The couple’s long-range plans call for his wife to eventually move to Bee County, he said.
Another reason he chose to move to Bee County and work out of Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville: “I think their charity work is important,” he said. “I have always wanted to be in a hospital or location that provides some type of social work to the community.”
Although he’s worked at large hospitals in larger communities, such as Houston, he finds a great satisfaction in working in small communities, he said.
“I think the rural areas that need physicians with experience and expertise provide some other level of satisfaction,” he explained.
For instance, as one of the only physicians with privileges to perform surgery at Christus Spohn Hospital in Beeville, Madrid is helping many patients who may otherwise have to travel out of the county for surgical procedures, he said.
He admits he enjoyed working at the University of Texas School of Medicine in Houston where he helped teach young physicians.
Madrid said he has enjoyed living in Bee County as well.
“All of the community has been very receptive, the physicians have been very welcoming. I’ve enjoyed my time here.”
Dr. Madrid has an office at Suite 14 at the Christus Spohn Medical Complex, located just south of the emergency room entrance.
Several dozen well-wishers attended a reception for the county’s newest surgeon and his wife on Tuesday evening at the Beeville Community Center.
Mari Cuellar, chief nursing officer at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville, was among those welcoming Dr. Madrid to the community.
Of course, she’s already worked with Dr. Madrid for the past month or so.
“The staff at the hospital absolutely loves him,” she said. “He’s really a great guy and he’s very appreciative of the staff.”
So much so that when the nursing staff was forced to work overtime earlier this month, Dr. Madrid ordered them sandwiches.
“He goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Cuellar said. “He’s a keeper and the community really needs to embrace him and let him know we appreciate his being here.”