Figuring out the hospital

The hospital I go to is in Heredia.  I haven’t been to any other public hospitals here.  So, again I can only tell you about my experience yesterday.

Yesterday was my appointment to meet with a bunch of doctors about my thyroid issues.  I have at least two tumors in it, maybe more.  So we get up at, “I shouldn’t have even gone to bed” o’clock and have coffee.  Feed the cats and dogs and head out.  My appointment was at 7 but you always have to be there at least 15 minutes early to show all of your paperwork and it’s about a two hour drive for us.

We get to the hospital and my husband drops me off at the front while he goes and finds a place to park.  We ended up getting there a lot earlier than anticipated, but that’s all good.  Now, the last time I was there I remember seeing a sign for the thyroid clinic on the forth floor of building C.  So, I go there first.  Nope, wrong place.  OK, we head to building B and ask the guard.  We are in the right building but we need to wait to be called up and they will take us up in a group to the third floor.  The third floor is the patient floor and it is a secure floor, no one is just allowed to walk in; I like that.  We get called up at 7 and head up with a lady and her family.  I was the first one to go in for the meeting at 7:30.  There were a total of 16 doctors and medical students in the room.  It was a little overwhelming.  My endocrinologist was there, a pathologist, an oncologist, a surgeon, and I’m not sure who else.  What they do is they get all the specialist together to meet with the patient and go over their case and decide as a group what should be done.  It really speeds things up, I don’t have to go all over town to different specialists for different things.  They are all there together communicating with each other.  They ask me a few questions, feel my thyroid, talk, and then have me wait back out in the hall.  Next they called in the other lady.  I wait for her to get done and then for the doctors to discuss everything on our cases.  The students leave and only one doctor stayed, he called me back in to discuss what the plan is.  I am going to have surgery.  With the type of cells that were found in my biopsy they want to get the tumors out.  That is going to be the only way to know for sure if it is cancerous or not.  These cells can go either way.  Now, when I went to a private doctor, he wanted to wait; saying that the tumors were too small and it was nothing to worry about.  These doctors want to get it out sooner than later.  From there we went back to the other building and up to the forth floor.

Now that we are back in building C we wait to get a paper stating that I am in need of surgery and with what doctors.  I take this down to the first floor to get it stamped.  After finding out where exactly to take it I get it stamped I take it up to the third floor.  At this point we are getting some exercise.  I finally found where to go on the third floor and take my paperwork to the window.  The guy then tells me that he doesn’t have my file and needs it; now it’s back up to the forth floor.  I get my file and then back down to the third floor.  He lets me know that it’s going to be 15 minutes before he can do anything.  OK, we went outside for a smoke.  We finally get my file back and have to take it to a nurse where she checks my vitals and then tells me to wait.  I have no idea what I am waiting for at this point.  My name finally gets called and I meet one on one with my surgeon. ( Ah, that’s why I was waiting.)  So, I finally get to talk to my surgeon and find out exactly what is going to happen.  They are going to remove at least half of my thyroid.  I need to get another ultrasound done first though to see if they need to remove the entire thyroid.  I really wasn’t expecting this.  But now I know.  From there I have to go back to building B and talk with admissions about when I can get in.  Unfortunately this is the only public hospital for my entire province.  I am on a waiting list and they will call when they have an opening for me.  I do know that I am put on the fast track which moves me to the top of the list because of possible cancer.  But at least I know I will get it taken care of without any out of pocket expenses.  I would hate to think what all  of this would have cost me in the States even with insurance.  Especially with all of the doctors that I met with.

Next it was off to building A to make my appointment for my ultrasound.  I go up to the guard who gives me a red number and I take a seat and wait for my number to be called.  I noticed that there were different colored numbers, red is priority.  My appointment is for next week, which means another long trip to Heredia; but at least I don’t have to get up as early.  The lady told me that they are open from 7-1 and I can come anytime during then.  I was listed for the 7-8 time slot, but when I told her where I lived she said it wasn’t a problem to come later.  Thank you!

So, we hit all three buildings at the hospital.  Met with an entire team of doctors, got myself on the waiting list for surgery, got my appointment for my ultrasound, and didn’t pay anything out of pocket.  No co-pays, no deductibles.  Our monthly premium is based on our income here, so we don’t pay a whole lot.  This will be my second surgery here, the first was an emergency appendectomy.  All of the doctors have been super friendly and so has the staff; including the security guards.  It’s like a one stop shop for all of your medical needs.  They even have a pharmacy there for people to pick up their prescriptions before leaving the hospital, so no leaving the hospital and driving to another pharmacy and waiting for your prescriptions.  They system isn’t perfect, but I find that it works.  It may be slow at times, but at least I know I’m not going into debt that I won’t ever be able to repay.  I know that if I do have an emergency I will be taken care of also.  When all was said and done we were out of there around noon.

Then we headed to Walmart for junk food.  I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but that’s OK.  We got some pastries to eat in the car while we watched the kids in the skate park practicing their skate boarding.  It was really neat to watch.

From there we headed home and I didn’t make any wrong turns while leaving the city.  About half way home there is a gift shop up in the mountains, which it was pretty cold up there for me.  I wasn’t expecting my husband to stop, but he did.  They have these hammock chairs that I really like; I have one but wanted another one.  The last time we checked they were asking 25,000 colones for them; we decided that was too much.  This time we asked and they were asking 22,000 for them.  But the one I liked was outside on display.  They lady told me that since it was the display on she would give us a discount on it; we got it for 20,000.  I was quite happy with that.  This one is a lot longer than the first one I bought.  So, after this already really long day my husband comes home and gets out the ladder to try to shorten the chain that my other hammock chair was on.  It was still too long.  I tie some knots in it and now it is perfect!  It is so much more comfortable than the other one.  I will only let you sit in it if I really, really like you!  So, that was my day yesterday.  It was a long day, but I feel that it was productive and I feel that I got a lot of answers.  Now, we just wait for the call.  Until mañana, Pura Vida!



2 responses

  1. Great story…hope all goes well with your procedure… seems like they have better health plan than these big countries, USA, that want to charge you for everything

    • I have worked in the healthcare field in the US. It’s crazy. The costs are out of control in the US. We have a one payer system here, but if you like you can still purchase private health insurance and see a private doctor. It is like that in many countries, even those with universal healthcare. You still have the option to go private, I think that is what a lot of people don’t understand, you can get private if you want. You aren’t limited to only one system.

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