As a Registered Nurse Costa Rica health care is a topic close to my heart and recently I had the good fortune to visit beautiful Costa Rica to check out Costa Rica health care – the Doctors, Surgeons, Dentists and a Costa Rica hospital.
On landing in San Jose airport, I was immediately overwhelmed by the cloud-kissed mountains and the fresh warm breeze so my mind wasn’t always on Costa Rica health care….
On the drive to Escazu, I just couldn’t stop looking around at those beautiful green peaks that seemed to surround the valley like a protective fortress. I spent many hours walking and riding around San Jose and the surrounding countryside during my stay.
Each time I thought I had seen the most beautiful view possible, there was an even more spectacular scene waiting around the next bend.
And even warmer than the breezes were the people whom I encountered. Everywhere that I went, from the local markets to the restaurants and shops, I was greeted by friendly welcoming faces, many of whom spoke my language even though I could not speak theirs..
Now, being a nurse of 30 years, I always worry a bit when I travel and I wondered about Costa Rica health care. What if I should be injured or get seriously ill? In my own country, when I travel far from the hospital at which I work, this thought goes through my mind. I know that conditions vary from place to place even in the U.S.A.
Also, I had heard and read much about health care in countries where medicine was behind the times according to American standards. Since the purpose of this trip was not purely for pleasure, but business also, (Wow! What a sacrifice!), I was in for a most pleasant surprise!
I was here to meet with Scott Oliver, founder of WeLoveCostaRica.com – this website. We were going to explore some ideas for a medical-related business venture. Scott had scheduled appointments with a dentist and two physicians, as well a tour of CIMA Hospital San Jose. I was quite excited about this opportunity to take a look at health care in a Central American country.
Dr. Mario, a dentist, was our first appointment. Dr. Mario was most personable and I felt comfortable talking with him right away. He spoke excellent English and was happy to answer any questions that we had. I felt that if I were his patient, his relaxed, friendly manner would immediately put me at ease. Dr. Mario’s answers and information demonstrated that he was obviously very knowledgeable and skilled in dentistry.
The main message that came through was to always do what is best for the patient. He offered to finish the meeting with a tour of his office. We walked through immaculate rooms of equipment that any American dentist would be thrilled to have in his or her own office. His staff was equally warm and receptive.
Dr. Oscar – An excellent cosmetic surgeon
Next was Dr. Eduardo. We picked him up at CIMA and went to lunch. As with Dr. Mario, his English was excellent. (I wondered how many physicians in my hospital spoke a second language at all, let alone as adeptly.) Dr. Eduardo discussed the parameters for evaluating patients for surgery, as well as discussing his own interesting and exciting background in health care.
Dr. Eduardo is a family Doctor who specializes in evacuation and transport of patients with life-threatening medical emergencies. Once again, I was made to feel entirely comfortable asking any questions that I had. The three of us got so engrossed in a most enlightening and enjoyable conversation, that we completely forgot our scheduled tour or CIMA!
You can see an online video interview with Dr. Eduardo, Costa Rica Family Doctor – Free online video with one of the “best, most caring Doctors we’ve ever encountered” here.
The third appointment was with Dr. Oscar. Wow! If I were a nervous patient waiting to have surgery, I couldn’t think of a more comforting presence! Dr. Oscar had a demeanor that immediately invoked trust. I felt a closeness to him right away because of his obvious concern for excellent patient care.
You can see an online video interview with Dr. Oscar, Costa Rica Plastic Surgeon here.
We discussed many aspects of cosmetic surgery and the main concern was always stressed “taking the best possible care of his patients , regardless of all else. At the end of our interview, Dr. Oscar took extra time out of his busy day to arrange a tour of CIMA for Scott and me. (Since we missed our first one!) There just wasn’t the “I’m in a hurry and you’re taking up my time!” attitude with which I’m so used to dealing in America.
So now for our tour of CIMA San Jose. What a difference from the hospital at which I work and many others I have visited in the U.S!! I’m used to busy, over crowded, bustling hospitals filled with overworked, “stressed-out” staff. This facility was not only beautiful, but bright, immaculately clean and peaceful!
Hospital CIMA – Best hospital in all of Central America
We first visited a medical floor, including individual patient rooms which were trim and inviting. We then went back to the ground floor to be shown room after room of “state of the art”diagnostic equipment which included Open MRI, Helicoid CT scan, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, Mammogram, Bone-density scan and conventional X-ray. We toured their Emergency Department which is staffed 24 hours a day with both adult and pediatric trauma-certified physicians.
Hospital CIMA – CAT Scan
Hospital CIMA – The only ‘open’ MRI in Costa Rica
We were shown their special Shock and Trauma Emergency Room. We then walked outside to see their helipad. I was amazed to learn that all 150 on-site physicians there spoke English. The staff wasn’t harried, but calm and friendly. Everyone was smiling and chatting happily as we walked in.
Hospital CIMA – Nurses Station
Hospital CIMA – Restaurant Area
Spotlessly clean hallways …. Pediatrics room and a standard hospital room.
“I would be happy to be a patient here. , I thought to myself. “Heck! I would be proud to be a NURSE here!
I can’t over emphasize the calm, the warmth, and the cleanliness that this facility exuded. From the outside CIMA, looked like any other imposing hospital in the USA, but the inside demonstrated a very different feeling. Even the staff cafeteria looked like a very nice, relaxing restaurant. The overall impression that I had was one of professionalism, efficiency, and friendliness.
This nurse left Costa Rica with feelings of exhilaration mixed with sadness. I’ve lived in Virginia and worked for the same health care system for 26 years in varying roles. In that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to form a wonderful network of both personal and professional friends. But this trip was truly life-changing.
As I write this article, the temperature here is in the single digits with a wind chill factor below zero. The scene outside is a mixture of dull browns and grays, interspersed with the occasional evergreen. I live in an area of Virginia called the Shenandoah Valley. It truly is a beautiful place, but now I’ve been some where else… Costa Rica. where life is slower, calmer and happier.
I’ve hiked to the top of a mountain along a trail where three crosses were erected. I’ve visited an active volcano, I’ve sunned on a beautiful beach with warm, crystal clear water, and most importantly, I’ve made friends who will always be friends no matter what the distance. I’ve met people who care enough to speak my language, even if I can’t speak theirs.
My life, both professional and personal, is forever changed. Thank you Costa Rica!
Written by Betty Bensenhaver from Virginia, USA who has been in the nursing profession for 30+ years.
Costa Rica Health Care and Hospitals – Hospital CIMA in Escazu.
Article/Property ID Number 525
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