Partial easing of restrictions

Costa Rica will begin easing some coronavirus measures starting May 1, President Carlos Alvarado and Health Minister Daniel Salas announced Monday afternoon.
Theaters, gyms and athletic centers — which have been closed since March 18 — will be permitted to reopen during the week. But some of the country’s most impactful restrictions, including a ban on arriving tourists, will continue.

~Tico Times

Read these linked articles in English on the Tico Times website:

Costa Rica begins easing some coronavirus measures

Costa Rica likely to extend border restrictions; beaches remain closed

Coronavirus in Costa Rica: The country’s projections and long-term plan

How has Costa Rica contained the coronavirus?   (The U.S. could learn something here and the long-term plan above, but your president is too proud to learn from anybody.)

¡Pura Vida!


Spending the Night in Hospital

Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela
More commonly known as “Hospital Alajuela”
Alajuela, Costa Rica

I spent a couple hours here today (Wednesday) with my translator Jason Quesada with the admissions director telling us at the exact time of our appointment that he was going to lunch.  🙂   Pura vida! We visited and waited an hour with many other persons I assume also wanted admission to the hospital. All along I expected to just get paperwork from this, my home hospital, to take with me to San Jose’s Hospital Mexico Friday morning for my angiogram. I was wrong! Lorenzo said that I would be admitted to an available bed in Alajuela and be considered a patient there for the angiogram. When time for the actual test they will transport me to Hospital Mexico (instead of down the hall) for the test because that is where the equipment is. (14.2 km or 8.79 miles or 21 minutes) Then I would be “transported” back to Alajuela Hospital where my doctor will say when I am dismissed, possibly Friday afternoon, though it could be Saturday.

That was all new and a surprise to me, as Jason said my face showed! Then Lorenzo (Admissions Office) said I will check you in today at 3:00 (it was 2:15) if we have any available rooms. Otherwise I will guarantee you a room at 3:00 tomorrow. (“Please God, don’t let there be an available room today!” I had no toiletries, extra clothing or phone charger with me.) Soon Lorenzo came out to tell me through Jason that they had no rooms left and he would see me tomorrow at 3:00. Yaay!
We got a taxi in the rain to the bus station and headed back to Atenas where I treated Jason to a late lunch or early dinner of patacones con carne machada. Delicioso! And now I’m back home wondering what it will be like for my first Costa Rica hospital experience. 
NOTE: I will not risk taking my laptop to a hospital and not sure I will have wifi anyway. So you can expect the full report by Saturday or Sunday. Another great Costa Rica adventure!  🙂

Hospital San Rafael de Alajuela

Hospital Mexico de San Jose

Correction in Yesterday’s Web Link

University of Costa Rica

I was trying to link to the University of Costa Rica medical school and when I googled it the paid ad of a private medical school here came up first and that was the link I used. Sorry! The above link is to the real university website and you can drill down to the medical school or other information about the university. And I just corrected my original post. Money rules even on Google searches! Where you can pay to be listed first!    🙂

Renown medical journal
University of Costa Rica

The university medical school does a twice a year medical research journal called Revista Médica that is well-respected throughout the Americas. And of course they train most of the doctors in Costa Rica along with a few other Latin American medical schools like UCIMED I mistakenly linked to yesterday and a few medical schools in other countries, including the USA.

Most doctors here work for salary through the government health plan where no patient is turned down because of “pre-existing conditions” and there is not expensive co-pay like in the states. The outstanding single-payer healthcare services here contribute to Costa Rica having a healthier population than the United States. And I think the relaxed, happier, pura vida attitude helps too! It is a great, healthy place to live!

No Angiogram Today

Well, I did not get my angiogram today after two hours at Hospital Mexico (left) and another hour at Alajuela Hospital (my province hospital). It seems that the bigger hospital wants my regional hospital to perform some preliminary tests that they can do before the big hospital does my angiogram which is now rescheduled for 25 Agosto, oh, that’s August 25! And yes, they did tell me that earlier or the doctor scribbled it on the appointment sheet in Spanish that even my Tico friends could not read. Tough luck!

It is all part of the bureaucracy in the government healthcare that Ticos make fun of all the time but are also more naturally patient than Americans. And hey! I have more time than money! So, just another adventure! Plus Jason and I had a great lunch of Mexican food at Jalapeno Central in Alajuela today! They even have pecan pie! (Not something you find very often here!)

The other thing a learned today is how important it is to speak Spanish if you are going to live here as a local and use services like this! Sure wish I had learned Spanish when I was young! I’m a slow learner now! I really needed my translator today, Jason Quesada. My cardiologist will call me next week when he returns from a trip and get it all worked out.  🙂   Pura vida!


And for my fellow readers and literary lovers, you must see this more sophisticated evaluation of Donald Trump that ironically uses a wonderful old Russian fairy tale to describe him: 


Are any of my American friends aware that your president is now the most mocked man in the world? How sad! And even sadder, my cable TV subscription does not include the American NBC network, thus I don’t get to watch Saturday Night Live! Sob, sob.  🙂  And even the YouTube clips are not licensed for showing in Costa Rica, thus can’t go there! I occasionally see little clips on Washington Post or a pirated one somewhere. So funny! 

2nd only to Canada in Healthcare!



If considering Costa Rica as your place of retirement, you will be pleased with the results of the latest World Health Organization study on both the health of the people and the quality of the public healthcare provided, especially in regards to premature deaths. (Click above title for article.)  Or see World Health Statistics 2017 from the WHO.
Panama was in second place with regard to fewer premature deaths in Central America (In case you are considering Panama, which was my second-ranked choice for retirement). And in the WHO survey Costa Rica ranks 19th healthiest country in the whole world! Glad I live here now! 🙂
¡Pura Vida!

First Visit to Hospital Mexico

Hospital Mexico Entrance
It is the largest public hospital in Costa Rica and where most serious
surgeries, tests, and treatments take place; “The Mother Ship” if you please.
There’s a tall building behind this with all the rooms, etc. 

My primary hospital is Hospital Alajuela where I have been seeing a cardiologist (cardiólogo) who now wants a picture of my arteries, an angiogram. Well the only public hospital with equipment for that is the main hospital, Hospital Mexico (named that because it is located in the Barrio México or neighborhood called “Mexico”). It is a huge hospital with lots of doctors, specialists and the ability to do just about anything any hospital can do! And it is paid for by the government healthcare program! I will never have a co-pay or any bill from either on of my two government hospitals. I’m very pleased with my healthcare here and my private options should I ever need them. Just be happier when I can speak better Spanish!  🙂

TODAY – 3 April
I had an appointment to get an appointment. I had to wait and go to three different people which only took an hour which is not bad in a bureaucratic government hospital. One of those was a lady who just created a file on me at that hospital, just like I had to do at Alajuela Hospital to get started there. I’m now one of their patients.
17 April
I have an appointment there with one of their cardiologists who will review the files I have from Alajuela and see if he agrees that I need an angiogram. If so, I assume he tells one of the girls to schedule it. That is two weeks from today which is really not bad. 
Later – Maybe this year or next
I go in for an angiogram (if approved) – Actually I think it will be earlier because I’m gathering that cardiology is considered more urgent, but it could still be 2 months away. We will see.  🙂
Technically, this is my second visit to Hospital Mexico, I did go there briefly in January 2016 on the Healthcare Tour of Costa Rica – which I recommend!

Doctor Visits

Monday I had my first follow-up visit with my CAJA (government healthcare program) at Alajuela Hospital where my cardiologist did another EKG and a ultrasound of my heart. Then he personally monitored a treadmill test of my heart followed by another ultrasound he monitored. It was amazing to me that I was in and out of there in 45 minutes. He told me that the only other test he would like to have on me is an angiogram which he could not order until he consulted at least one other cardiologist there in the Alajuela Hospital because there is not much indication that I would have any blockage. He said he would call if it was approved and then I would have to go to Hospital Mexico in San Jose, which is the only one with the equipment to do an angiogram. It is the primary or main hospital for Costa Rica CAJA or government healthcare.

Well, his technician called me today y hablando sólo en Español. We both struggled through but basically I have to go back anytime tomorrow and get some “documentation” or paperwork from them in Alajuela to take to Hospital Mexico for an appointment for the angiogram. If I understood her correctly, my Mexico appointment is April 10 at 10 AM, but not clear yet if that is when I get the angiogram or, if like most things here, I may just be making an appointment for one much later. I should find out tomorrow.

This is how “single payer” or government or what Americans like to call “socialized medicine” works with priorities given to more serious things, emergencies, etc. It took two months for my first appointment with my cardiologist. No problem for me to wait for this as I don’t believe I have a serious problem. Best of all: No more cost for me now that I have a CAJA card, even if it led to the unlikely case of heart surgery.  I will keep you posted. Dr. Hernandez is basically building a file on me and my heart for any future needs and trying to be responsible for my heart. I appreciate that!

Today I visited my dentist who also speaks only Español and we managed fine for my annual teeth cleaning and checkup by the dentist herself and not a technician. She says once a year is fine and not the every 6 months U.S. dentists request to increase their income. She found the need for one tiny filling which I’m scheduled to get next Tuesday. And that is it for a year! And cheap! Many Americans come here for dental work to save thousands of dollars in what is sometimes called “medical tourism” or even “dental tourism.” A friend in Tennessee has come here twice for his dental work and saved a lot more than his plane ticket and hotel bill. That is for big work like bridges and caps.

Someday I will think about taking a photo at one of these places! It just hasn’t been on my mind with everything else to do like getting there and communicating!  🙂

My first free prescription!

Waiting in line for my “free” prescription
at the local government Clinica Farmacia.
The right line is to give them the prescription & left to pick it up.
Depending on work load, 1 to 3 hours wait. I just left and returned later.

My local private doctor diagnosed me with heart arrhythmia and through an expensive private cardiologist in San Jose I was given an expensive beta blocker at about 60-80 bucks a month. My local private primary care doc found a generic version at about half that price, but I talked to my government primary care doctor anyway. As reported earlier, he sent me to a cardiologist at the Alajuela Hospital where I would go with emergency heart problems on the government plan. And the really nice, 30-something cardiologist checked me out and said he could give be a prescription at no cost but it would be different from what the private doctor gave me (a 3rd brand of beta blocker). It is Atenolol and after researching it online I discovered that it is the most used med for arrhythmia in the U.S. or all around the world right now. So I am just now experiencing one of my big savings through CAJA, the government health plan.

As I think I explained earlier, I am keeping my foot in both doors “just in case” because some hospitalizations, surgeries, or other procedures have long waits in the government program unless an emergency. i.e. Hospital Alajuela will be my government hospital where I have a cardiologist already. Next Monday I have a consultation at Hospital Metropolitano San Jose which will be my private hospital of choice when the public hospital is not available. I joined a discount program with them and will save up to 80% off many services there compared to other private hospitals. At my age, regular private insurance is just too expensive, so this is my self-made plan and I plan to use the public services as much as possible as in this case with heart medication, but if needed, I have a private option that I hopefully can afford. 
When you are an immigrant in another country, it takes time to get all the details worked out. But it feels good when you do!  🙂

And after stirring up people on Facebook with a comment about Trump, I’m going to stay focused on BEING an immigrant and not telling people how to solve the immigrant problems in the states!  🙂