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Hospital CIMA
Hospital CIMA

The Three Top Rated Hospitals in Costa Rica

Scott Oliver
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JCI is the Joint Commission international. Their focus is on healthcare quality improvement and patient safety with an expertise in infection control, medication and facility safety.

JCI is a world leader in healthcare quality and patient safety, something you most certainly want your hospital to be a part of if you're having major surgery. Their set of standards were developed by health care experts from around the world and tested in every region for efficacy.

Once a facility has been thoroughly assessed the accreditation decision can be made. Because the decision is cast by an international committee of health care experts, you can be sure that only the best receive this distinction.

Hospital CIMA's Reception Area
Hospital CIMA's Reception Area

There are currently only three hospitals in Costa Rica that have JCI accreditation:

  1. Hospital CIMA in Escazu, Costa Rica.
  2. Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose and...
  3. Hospital Clinica La Catolica in Guadalupe, San Jose

When a hospital is JCI accredited, as all three hospitals are, it means that they volunteered to have this independent organization assess them to determine if they meet the set of standards required to improve patient care and more importantly it shows the facility's commitment to quality standards.

If a hospital is concerned about JCI accreditation you can be sure that they care about you, the patient, and your experience at their facility. All three hospitals share this exceptional quality standard.

There are some differences though to these hospitals, certain unique aspects that set them all apart. I will outline each one separately:

No smooking allowed!
No smooking allowed!

Hospital CIMA in Escazu, Costa Rica.

CIMA is located in Escazu, an upscale city community, about 30 minutes from the Juan Santamaria international airport. Opened in February 2000, within 4 years it had attained 40% of the private hospital clients, which needless to say is quite extraordinary.

If you have ever been in a North American hospital then stepping into CIMA will be very comforting and familiar experience. It is a clean, state of the art facility, where even the IV tubing is the same as you would see in most North American hospitals.

It is operated by a US corporation out of Dallas and boasts the most English speaking staff of any of the hospitals in Costa Rica. They seem to work well with insurance and claim a 30-70% decrease in cost from a North American facility. Of the three JCI accredited hospitals in Costa Rica, CIMA is usually the most expensive but with that comes the most modern facility offering more choice then anywhere else in the country.

There are over 400 doctors that represent over 60 different medical specialties, giving you the most medical options out of all 3 facilities. CIMA has 2 towers of doctor offices connected to the hospital and 3 hotels directly adjacent to the hospital. There is an advanced imaging center complete with MRI, open MRI, CT, ultrasound, endoscopy, x-ray, bone density scanner, and nuclear medicine.

Hospital CIMA also has a full service laboratory and a 24 hour pharmacy all on site. There is also a special international insurance claims department to handle the insurance needs of Americans. 25% of the patients seen at CIMA are foreigners, the most out of all 3 hospitals and substantial proof of the preference by foreigners of this facility.

CIMA is unique in many ways and seems to constantly be trying to improve upon its services. Staff is upheld to extremely strict credential checks that have been put in place by the all American upper management team.

Also unique to CIMA Hospital is that they are the only hospital to offer experienced green light laser surgery as a less invasive and more effective treatment option for prostate enlargement, which effects over 50% of men over 60 years of age. In addition, in 2009 CIMA opened 4 new state of the art operating rooms, with the most modern technology in all of Central America, rivaling anyplace in the world. Moreover, they also obtained a new CT scan that is far faster than all other scanners and offers a 70% decrease in exposure to radiation.

CIMA was the first hospital to receive special accreditation from the Costa Rican government and also holds 2 more special notations. One for maintaining the highest standards of infection control practices and the other for their medical staff credentialing which is on par with John Hopkins and other internationally renowned hospitals and medical centers. CIMA sets itself apart on a continual basis.

Hospital La Catolica
Hospital La Catolica

Hospital Clinica Biblica in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Also in San Jose although downtown and a bit harder to locate, Hospital Biblica was founded in 1929 and is a private, not for profit, facility. It was the first of the 3 hospitals to attain JCI accreditation.

Hospital Biblica offers over 200 physicians covering a wide variety of medical services. The campus includes a full service laboratory, 24 hour pharmacy with express service, and an advanced imaging center. 20% of patients attended to at Clinica Biblica are foreigners, making them quite capable of addressing the particular needs of North Americans. They boast a saving of, on average, 70% from what you would pay in a US facility. But they also state that the savings may be as high as 300% on certain procedures. To assist with the insurance needs of the international client the hospital has a fantastic insurance department.

The stated mortality rate is under 1%, a very impressive statistic especially since most facilities in the US see a death rate of over 8%. On a regular floor the patient to nurse ratio is 4:1, in the US it is most often 6 or 7:1. On an intensive care floor it is 1:1 or 2:1, same as in the US. Most of the hospitals in Costa Rica share the same or similar statistics.

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Hospital Biblica is also unique in a few ways. They have an internationally certified lab and are the only facility in Costa Rica to have a certified blood bank on site. 50% of their staff has had training in the US, so a majority of the healthcare workers, particularly the doctors, speak some level of English.

Hospital Biblica also offers a health care assistant program for added assistance throughout your stay. The hospital also prides itself on preventative medicine and so offers a comprehensive preventative medical program to assist in formulating an individual health plan as well as offering full medical check up services.

Hospital La Catolica
Hospital La Catolica

Hospital Clinica La Catolica in Guadalupe, San Jose

Located in Guadalupe, San Jose, Hospital Catolica was founded in 1963 and has been building on its quality of service ever since. To compare, most people seem to find that Catolica is a bit less corporate and so seems to be more of a friendly atmosphere. It also seems to be slightly less expensive then CIMA but at the same time slightly less modern. The entire hospital has been renovated over the last few years and has a warm, bright and clean appearance.

Catolica, which has 109 beds available, employs over 70 doctors and covers over 30 different medical specialties. They have a modern laboratory as well as an imaging center to cover xrays, ct scans, mri scans, etc. It is a 69 room hospital with 10 state of the art operating rooms complete with all the high tech equipment you would expect to find in any NA hospital.

Catolica is unique in a few ways. It is the only hospital in Costa Rica with a hyperbaric chamber, that can be used independently or to house up to 6 patients at a time. Hyperbaric chambers can be used to treat a number of ailments and is proven to provide faster healing, to decrease length of stay in the hospital, and to decrease the medication consumed after surgery.

This is the hotel which is part of Hospital La Catolica
This is the hotel which is part of Hospital La Catolica

Another unique component to Hospital Catolica is its 34 room hotel maintained on site in the hospital itself. The rooms are available for the patient as well as their family members and include everything you would find in any hotel, cable tv, hot water, wireless internet, etc.

It is a good alternative for a safe and convenient recovery, with an onsite modern spa and physical therapy area, complete with a fully equipped Pilates studio. When staying at the hotel you will have easy access to medical attention as well as access to exceptional food under the supervision of a nutritionist.

All three JCI accredited hospitals want to insure that your experience is a positive one. Many of the doctors featured on CostaRicaHospital.com share time between all three hospitals, so your experience is sure to be high quality no matter which facility is chosen.

Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica's Guide To Making Money Offshore and 3. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Raíces en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?

Scott Oliver's Four Books
Scott Oliver's Four Books.
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