As I wrote about in my last post, I had received a letter from my US health care provider indicating that there was an area of concern on my last mammogram and now, here I am in Costa Rica. Oh dear…
Bill and I reached out to our new ex-pat friends to get recommendations for follow-up. We assumed that we could go to the local hospital in Cortez, but received guidance to go to either San Isidro (2 hours away) or the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose (4 hours away). We decided to go to San Jose, so next we needed to know which private hospital could address our need. There are several in San Jose, with CIMA being the largest and more focused on ex-pat patients, but we chose Clinica Biblica in the center of town, as again, the OB/GYN based at that hospital came highly recommended.
We drove to San Jose (see Sunday Brunch #4) and picked up our friend, Denise (more on Denise and her wonderful services later…) and headed for the hospital. A few wrong turns here and there, but we found it. There are no such thing as real street addresses in Costa Rica, other than near the first cathedral or two streets over from the blue house with the horse in front. The hospital was not even on our San Jose map (but rest assured, Pizza Hut is!).
The hospital looked like a hospital one might see in the US. The staff were dressed very professionally with women in pant suits and heels, nurses in white dress uniforms and caps and doctors in white coats and ties. The doctor was on time, very friendly, reassuring, spoke good English and did the whole intake himself. I think he got quite a chuckle as we were doing the health history. It went like this:
Doctor: Any illnesses?
Doctor: Are you taking any medications?
Doctor: Do you smoke?
Doctor: What do you do?
Jamie: (feeling a little sheepish for all the boring “no” answers): I drink!
Doctor: For a living?
Jamie: Oh, no, not for a living. I am retired.
Yes, it does matter in English where you put the emphasis; “What DO you do?” is very different from “What do you DO?”. It was a rather funny moment that lightened up the entire process. And no one has asked me the ‘What do you DO?” question in a very long time…
The doctor completed the health history and did a quick examination. He indicated that he did not see or feel anything abnormal but created a request for an ultrasound, just to be sure. We wandered our way back over to the main hospital wing and scheduled an appointment at Radiology for the upcoming week, since we needed to come back to San Jose to get our Berkeley house deed notarized to complete the sale.
We had given up our US insurance, but we had purchased an ex-pat policy for emergencies, either here in Costa Rica or when we are back visiting in the US. Physician visits are not covered, so I knew the cost would be my responsibility. You can imagine my surprise when the cost of the consultation was only $80 US.
On the following Tuesday, we came back to San Jose by ourselves and had a very successful day getting everything done at the US Embassy and FedEx. We found the hospital on the first try! There was some initial concern as the radiologist did not want to do another mammogram since I had just had one in April, but was okay with doing the ultrasound. The radiologist himself did the scan and quickly reassured me that there was nothing to be alarmed about in the area identified and did a complete scan of both of the girls to insure that there was nothing anywhere. Within 10 minutes after scan, I was given a letter from the radiologist to my OB/GYN outlining his findings as well as the scan pictures, which we dropped off at his office across the way. Again, this service cost me $80 US. These 2 visits, executed by actual physicians cost me less that my co-pay would have in the States. I was so grateful and very relieved to know that everything was ok.
So, one thing that has been very important in our move here, has been the help and guidance of others. If you or anyone you know is coming to the Southern Coast of Costa Rica, may I recommend the services of my friend, Denise and her company TLC Concierge Services? She can provide assistance with anything you may need while traveling here, including car rentals, private ground transfers, domestic air travel within Costa Rica, home rental bookings, hotel reservations, tour/excursion bookings, local outings and activities and all general information about visiting Costa Rica. For sure, she can help make your trip here as smooth and stress free as possible. Thank you, Denise for all your help with my health care concerns!
Here is Denise’s contact information: