Dr Maria Alice Serrano e Silva

WORDS Niki Medlock

On Tuesday 7 March, Dr Maria Alice passed away peacefully at home after a short illness. She leaves behind not only her immediate family, a husband and two sons, and her Luzdoc family but also a great legacy. 

Dr Maria Alice was a true Renaissance woman: intelligent, well-read, an astute businesswoman and a lover of art and nature. Her life experiences, combined with a tenacious personality, drove her to strive for excellence in all she did, an attribute which she likewise expected from all who worked with her. 

These qualities, and many more, led her to make decisions and seize chances in life that many of us would have been afraid to choose. Dr Maria Alice was definitely a “force of nature” throughout her life and her passion for medicine, in particular, family medicine and what it should stand for, was very much in evidence to all who came in contact with her – or were treated by her. 

She had an uncanny ability to correctly diagnose illness and disease, even when facing the most difficult and perplexing cases. This was through her capacity to see the patient not just as a walking symptom but as a whole: a complex human being who is an integral part of their family and environment. 

Leaving a major hospital in Lisbon to come down to the Algarve nearly 50 years ago, at a time when it was very difficult to be a woman in a male-dominated profession, Dr Maria Alice had the vision and forethought to offer the highest standard of medical care, not only to the local Portuguese population but also the growing international and tourist populations. 

She realised the importance for a visitor to this country to be able to access the medical care available, have someone to talk to in their own language and receive treatment as soon as possible. 

As such, Luzdoc was created and has grown from a one-room doctors’ surgery to a multifaceted primary health care centre, always under the direction and guidance of Dr Maria Alice. 

She never believed in resting on her laurels, understanding that the field of medicine is always evolving. She was constantly researching new medical techniques and advancements in disease management, and investing in state-of-the-art equipment to be able to provide the best care for her patients. 

Dr Maria Alice was committed to her work, but there were many other facets of her life that made up the fragile, sensitive, humorous, artistic side of her character. 

The relationships Dr Maria Alice had with those around her – family, friends, and staff – were of the utmost importance to her – and, although she did not suffer fools lightly, she was always there when encouragement, support and practical help were needed. 

Dr Maria Alice had a very artistic nature – she was a talented opera singer, played the piano and, for many years, wrote down her observations and thoughts on life in the form of short essays, culminating in the publication of two books. 

She also had a very practical side, through her love of growing her own fruit and vegetables, as well as a passion for cooking. 

This article does not really begin to describe what made up the person who was Dr Maria Alice. The impact she made on so many lives throughout her life is a testament to someone who was larger than life and not afraid to take chances to make a meaningful difference – she will not be forgotten and will be sorely missed by all who knew her.


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