10:15 – Left the house walking to bus station
11:00 – Bus to Alajuela then taxi to Hospital Alajuela
12:15 – In line to check in on 4th floor Cardiology Department (cardiólogia)
12:30 – Behind the gray screen for weight and blood pressure
12:35 – Wait in front of Door 8
1:00 – Called into Door 8 where she asked questions in español of course. Then created an EKG (ecg) and then sent me to Door 4
2:00 – Dr. Hernandez calls me in behind Door 4. My first and only person of the day who spoke English. We mixed it up, Spanish/English, as he created a little heart-related medical history of me to begin my cardiology file. At one point he had me both sit and lay down on the examining table where he listened to my chest and back and then felt around in my abdomen. He read and wrote notes on the reports I brought from the private cardiologist I had seen earlier and the medication she had prescribed. He told me he would have be back for an ecocardiogram along with blood and urine workup to give him a total picture of my health to help him better monitor my heart. I feel very good about making this young (30-something) cardiologist my primary heart doctor with the government healthcare program generally called CAJA here.
2:50 – I go back to the front desk with really nice young adults who only speak Spanish to make my appointments (citas). The young man had to use his phone to translate to tell me I must first go to the first floor to a desk and have them make a file on me, mi experiencia, which took a while to find the right desk where I took a number and waited.
3:20 – I took my beautifully created large folder for all my medical records there back to 4th floor where the young man called me past the line and put everything in the folder except my two appointments for March 24 & 25 and multiple copies of my prescription for a different but similar treatment of my arrhythmia.
3:30 – Got a taxi to bus station
4:00 – Bus to Atenas
5:15 – I’m eating one of Chef Dan’s Meatloaf Dinners before watching ABC news.
Now all of this cost me exactly $0. The prescription is good until my March visit and it too is FREE! While the prescription from the private doctor even in generic form costs me between $40 and $50 per month.
Yeah, this first visit cost me most of the day and I had to wait a few months for it, but my heart will be monitored and cared for until I die at no other cost than the required $100 a month CAJA cost which is required if I live in Costa Rica, use it or not. I’m going to use it! Save money! And I like most of it even if rather slow! 🙂 Later I will explain how I plan to work the free government system with some limited private system healthcare and a great little local insurance for a private hospital if or when ever needed for just $12 USD per month! Later!