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Costa Rica Private Hospitals

Costa Rica Private HospitalsThere are five private hospitals in Costa Rica.  I have had experience three of the five so I will add my impressions to the general description of each.

The CAJA system of public hospitals in Costa Rica provides very good medical care, but many people who come to Costa Rica, especially those from the USA or Canada, expect to see a hospital pretty much like the ones "at home".  Few CAJA hospitals will meet this expectation. Most public emergency rooms are crowded and noisy, and while the CAJA system definitely works, it sometimes looks like it doesn't, and people become concerned or scared, especially if they don't speak Spanish

While there is almost always a doctor or nurse somewhere in a public hospital who speaks English, they may not be available or nearby when you are trying to explain exactly what hurts or what is the problem you are having. This can be really scary if you are not sure you are communicating accurately your medical needs.

If you live in Costa Rica and use the CAJA system, I recommend you at least learn the Spanish names for your body parts. Obviously pointing often works, but good communications skills are essential. This is one of the many reasons I tell people they really must learn Spanish to live here comfortably.

For these reasons, many folks who live here prefer to go to one of the fine private hospitals here in the San José area. A new hospital is being planned for the Liberia area in Guanacaste. If they keep to their plans, this should be a very modern and well equipped facility. I have heard a completion date of 2007, but in Costa Rica, dates seldom mean much!

The three private hospitals most popular are Cima Hospital, Clinica Católica, and Hospital Clínica Bíblica.   Note: The opinions and thoughts below represent a compilation of my opinions (if I have had any first hand knowledge) and those of folks whose opinions I trust.

Cima Hospital

Cima Hospital located about 15 minutes west of San José.   CIMA is actually part of a group of hospitals, Consorcio Internacional Hospital , S.A, and affiliated with the International Hospital Corporation in Dallas, TX. CIMA hospitals were also affiliated with the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, but that agreement has expired and there is no longer any relationship.

This hospital is a favorite of a lot of North Americans living here. English is a bit more common here, and the hospital itself looks, smells and feels like a US hospital. Funny how someone can hate hospitals but want that same smell, look, and feel when they feel crummy! 

I have had work done there, and was happy with the service. Also, some months ago, I had a client in one of my companies who was badly bitten by a dog.  He was in Cartago at the time and like so many North Americans, he did not feel comfortable going to the fine CAJA hospital nearby even though I assured him it was an excellent facility.  In any case, my wife and I met him and his wife and took them to CIMA emergency where the process went smoothly and efficiently.  He did almost have a coronary, though,  when his total bill came to only about $70.00.  One of the pleasant culture shocks I guess! 

There are also doctors offices located on the premises.

Clínica Católica

Clinica Católica is located in Guadalupe, San José, Costa Rica. I had one personal experiences with this hospital and found it to be excellent. The general impression I get is that others find it to be the same. Most provide the feedback that while CIMA is newer and may have equipment a bit more modern, they severely lack in friendliness with several folks saying the doctors and nurses were cold (poor bedside manner) at CIMA. However, I did not experince this when I went to CIMA for the one outpatient treatment I had. Anyone wanna anna see my colon... from inside???

All described Clínica Católica as a much warmer hospital with noticeably better attention from the staff. Also, the prices far less than CIMA.

Clínica Bíblica

Clínica Bíblica is located just off downtown San José and can be a bit daunting to reach if driving. Of the two times I have been there, I drove once and once took a cab.

I had mixed experiences with Clínica Bíblica. I went to the emergency room in great pain, and was immediately taken into the treatment area. Although Clínica Bíblica touts the fact that they have a large English speaking staff of doctors, nurses and administration people, I found that not to be the case. Fortunately, my Spanish (plus some pointing!) was at least adequate to explain my medical situation, and I was given first rate care which I guess is the most important thing.

The problems started later when they wanted to admit me. I had INS insurance, but regardless, they wanted to charge my credit card for $800.00 just to admit me as they apparently could not trust INS to pay or they could not confirm. I. on the other hand HAVE HAD experience with Costa Rica banks and had no desire to get into a battle trying to get that $800 put back on my account! 

Either way, I declined and went to CIMA the next day.  Seemed little point in paying for INS to not have it accepted.  CIMA had no problem with it. however.  Who knows?  In fairness, I had not been in Costa Rica very long and my Spanish was very limited, so it is possible I did not fully understand what was happening, however that takes us back to the fact that there wasn't anyone around to speak English and gives me another opportunity to tell you that you cannot live comfortably in Costa Rica unless you know the language!

My experience may have been an aberration. I know a lot of people who have used CB and were very happy. Several, however, mentioned billing issues and admittance problems. I tend to think that their medical staff is high quality, but their services and administration really need help.

CIMA and Clínica Bíblica both offer complete birthing packages at good rates! Pre natal exams are included. One thing though; If any complications occur at birth, the flat rate package goes out the window. So simple common problems like a touch of jaundice can be a real problem. At Clínica Bíblica, my son was told they immediately transfer ANY sick baby to Children's Hospital. Children's is truly an excellent hospital for children, but even so, the thought of the mother in one hospital and the child in another might be a problem for some folks.

There are two other private hospitals here, Santa Maria and Santa Rita.  Santa Maria is new and I have no experience there nor have I found any authoritative information. 

The second is Santa Rita, an obstetrics hospital. A web site is not maintained, so I do not know if they are active, so you might wish to contact them directly if more information is needed

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This page reviewed/modified: April 10, 2011