Emilio, with his 75 years, made the decision that he was going to continue working when things got dark for the city and for the rest of the country. “Twice a week I go to the office to attend to patients who require it, but I try to facilitate the telephone consultation,” he says, adding that he is not retiring yet “because he is not at that time when he could live without working.”
In the half century that Zingoni served as a specialist, he opened throats, extracted adenoids, uncovered ears and operated on the sinusitis of a good number of Neuquén and other neighboring regions. And like his father Emilo Zingoni did, he toured the interior of the province so that accessibility and the right to health were possible. “I graduated from the National University of La Plata in 1970 and went back to Neuquen because it was my place. I remember that at that time Dr. Pellín was in charge of the hospital and he offered to help the two specialists who were already working and also asked me to take care of the patients of Plottier, Centenario, Picún Leufú, Piedra del Águila and Villa La Angostura”Says Zingoni. “In Piedra I could not operate because the electricity service was during the night and in the morning there was no energy to open the operating room; but in Picún yes; I had the only patient there that I lost track of and I couldn’t follow her postoperative period ”, she says. It was about a local who had his tonsils removed, who, coming out of anesthesia, got up and did not wait for the doctor’s evaluation. “Now I tell it and laugh, but the truth is that I remember him a lot because I was worried,” he emphasizes.
The Santiago del Estero almost Roca street office – where his father and brother Carlos (of the same specialty) also attended – was the cradle of otorhinolaryngology until 2014. Perhaps someone could remember in these lines a full waiting room, a phone ringing every five minutes and two women organizing the shifts of the full schedules: the efficient Raquel and the endearing Elda. Perhaps someone has had a throat operation in that iconic place and remembers the past through the doctor’s room announcing the best news: “Today you are only going to eat ice cream, eh?”
“What you have to do is focus on responsibility, on being supportive, on being more human, on taking care of ourselves; until we find a scientific way out of the disease. “
Whenever he doesn’t have to leave the house, Zingoni continues studying. “We are doing a training focused on immunity, one of the topics that most concern us today, specifically on mucous membranes,” he explains. Because for him, looking for why, “is a matter of every day.”
In the footsteps of Fernando
The root of the Zingoni surname in the area begins with Don Fernando, who came from a village in Calabria (Italy) called Montalvo Uffugo. First he settled in Viedma because his brother Vicente was there, but one day, due to his characteristic adventurous eagerness, he got on his horse and – carrying his flock of sheep – arrived at the Río Grande de Neuquén Spa. By 1912, Emilio Zingoni’s grandfather had already skirted the river up to Piedra del Águila and had decided to go west, more precisely in Catan Lil, to raise and trade cattle with Chile.
He formed his family by marrying Emma Mathiu, a Swiss-French resident of San Martín de los Andes, with whom he had 8 children, one of them Emilio’s father, also called Emilio. “In 1912 there were no schools in the area, so the old man did his primary studies in Bahía Blanca and secondary in Buenos Aires,” he says. “He was twenty-five years old when, in Buenos Aires, he met my mother: María Romana Caruso, who encouraged him to study medicine. She, abandoning her career as a singer and actress, supported him during the seven years of study ”, he emphasizes.
As Don Emilio Zingoni Sr. had taken the Army candidate course, when in 1946 he was called to come as a doctor to the area, he did not hesitate. They settled in a little house where the Engineers Battalion is located today. “Everything was very far away at that time, the small town in Neuquén had the jail as one of its limits, another was the cemetery, another the wall, but it started in Elordi more or less; and our route 22 was Calle San Martín, where the city’s first gasoline supplier is located, ”says the otorhinographer.
Don Zingoni Sr. and María Ramona had five more children in addition to Emilio: Cristina Amalia who died at 21 days from a lung infection, María Cristina, Carlos Augusto, María Inés and María Elena. “Our childhood with my siblings was crossing to Plaza Roca with the complicity of Margarita and Elvira, who looked after us and riding their bikes or skates while Mom and Dad went out on a spree,” she recalls. However, not everything was fun, being a little more adult and before going to study in La Plata, Emilio became a very loyal companion of Don Emilio. “My father began to work in his private practice, ad-honorem at the Neuquén Hospital and together with doctors Rafael Vitale and Luis Ramón they founded what is now the Neuquén Polyclinic. But also, due to the lack of specialists south of the Colorado River, I went through the towns of Alto Valle, Plaza Huincul and Zapala. We would get on the “Mercury ’47 and I would accompany him on those medical tours,” he says proudly.
Emilio Zingoni stands on the Neuquén fence and observes the amount of buildings and asphalt. Also the green foliage that anticipates the entrance to the river valley. “The Neuquén that I wish for the future is the one that rests on the teachings of the pioneers: that of effort, humanity and respect. Understand that we cannot base our progress only on hydrocarbon exploitation but on the strengthening of education, culture and public health it is what will help to improve things ”, concludes the doctor.