Medical Care as in “Caring” in Dolega

I received the following email and received permission to post it.

From……: Joe and Nancy

“Emergency Medical Care in Dolega”
Don Ray,
Things sure are different here. I suffer from occasional kidney stones. Mostly they pass without too much fuss, occasionally they don’t. In the US, it necessitated a frantic visit to the emergency room, filling out endless forms and waiting, then some tests to be sure I wasn’t just looking for a “fix” I guess, then X-rays that nobody ever looked at until it didn’t matter, then finally shots, IV, pills – blessed relief and a very large bill. Sometimes a followup trip to the emergency room and do it all again. If the stones don’t pass, they have a sonic machine that for $10,000 a treatment may or may not break up the stone.

Monday evening I had severe pain that signaled another kidney stone to the point that I could no longer wait or tolerate it. It was about 10:30 in the evening. What to do? We placed a call to our local pharmacist at her home to ask. She and her husband were at our house in 5 minutes. She checked my symptoms quickly and called a local doctor, who arrived a few minutes later. He sent Rosa to the pharmacy for meds and supplies, and he left for David for the rest. In a little while, they had set me up in my own bed with an IV, shots and pills. Nobody left until I was pain free which was after 1:30 in the morning.

The next morning the Doctor and his son came by to take us to David for X-rays. The son walked us through the clinic and the Doctor reviewed the X-ray. He suggested drinking 8 glasses a day of water in which 8 green apples cut up had been boiled to dissolve/clear the stones. He came by that evening to redo an IV for pain and to assist in passing the stone, and another house call the following morning to remove the IV port and prescribe meds for pain/inflammation etc for the week. Total costs were $60 for doctor’s house calls, $15 for Xrays, 50 cents for doctor consultation at the clinic, $89 for all meds, IV supplies, syringes etc including for the next week or so. About $165 total. Oh yeah, plus the apples. Feeling better. The pharmacist calls or comes by daily to check, all my neighbors too. Is this a great place or what? Joe

What a great example of real healthCARE.

16 thoughts on “Medical Care as in “Caring” in Dolega

  1. Don Ray:
    I wonder if the pharmacist and the doctor would have done the same for any other panamanian or chiricano that has no money to pay out of pocket. I going to be brutally honest here, this gentleman got this treament just because he is a GRINGO and panamanians assume (most of the time been right) they can pay. $165 is chump change for him but is about 15 days work of wages for someody making minimal salary in Panama.
    Sorry my fellow chiricanos, but “a llamar las cosas por su nomber”

  2. I can equate with that. I had a stone while working in Alabama. Hurt like hell and after a very expensive trip to the E.R. The stone passed on it’s own. I didn’t drink water but several gallons of Milwaukees Best did the trick.

  3. For us Gringos, we can pay for services that regular Panamanians
    can’T. My neighbor’s son got sick and had to be rushed to the
    children’s hospital here in David, and she asked if I could take her
    with her son, as she is poor and did not even have money to call
    a taxi or take a bus, which only costs 60cents. Needles to say I did
    and it just reminds me of how lucky we are that live here and are
    able to pay for so much more than a Panamanian that lives in the

  4. Hi Jaime. Thanks for adding that perspective. That would be easy to miss if it wasn’t pointed out.

    Mike and Rudi thanks for taking the time to leave your comments as well.

  5. Re medical stuph: Does anyone know if there is a medical supply store –items such as crutches, wheelchairs, oxygen–in Boquete or David?

  6. Yes, you can find some things at stores like Arrocha, but there is a specialty store, next to Dominoes Pizza on the street that runs in front of Super 99, McDonalds.

  7. Hola ,me gustaria saber el nombre y telefono de ese medico ya q tengo ese problema de calculos renales ,DIOS no quiera pero si algun dia nesesito su ayuda en una emergencia me gustaria estar preparada ,de antemano gracias si me pueden ayudar .


  8. So, I think the original point was that Joe got fixed up for $165!! I think that is GREAT!! Joe feels that he actually got much better service for much less money. The doctors in the states would probably have eventually “cured” Joe while taking a huge sum of Joe’s money in the process. Stories like these are a big part of the reason for my wife and I to visit Panama for several months right after new years. We will probably live there at least part time after our initial visit….it sounds like a very nice place with very nice people!!

  9. Hi Richard. Thanks for dropping into Chiriqui Chattter and taking the time to leave a comment. You will find a lot of reasons that will help you like Panama. I can also assure you that there will be a fair amount that can drive you crazy if you let them.

    I can tell you that it would be impossible for me to live in Panama City, but you will find others that like it. It all depends on you and your likes and dislikes and level of patience.

  10. Re: Medical Supplies
    Beez: I became quite familiar with all the available medical supply places in David over that past 2 weeks while dealing with my grandma’s broken femur. I priced Wheel Chairs and Hospital Beds. The best place is Hogar y Salud, on Calle F Sur next to Dominoes across from La Iglesia del Carmen. They have an extensive selection of wheel chairs, walkers, canes, bathing seats, toilet chairs, bed padding, re-hab supplies and Hospital Beds and the gentleman there…Luis I think is his name…. even recommended another Medical Supply store InterMedic on Calle C Norte (near La Escuela Francesa) where I ended up getting the wheel chair I needed at a better price (They sell examination tables to doctors offices and some other supplies to Clinics & Doctors offices…like a wholesale supply house..) Arrocha does have a couple wheel chairs and sometimes has canes and walkers, but their prices tend to be higher than at the other 2 places…

  11. Hi Lili. Thanks for the comment. I need to remember to take photos of these places.

    Also Tom McCormack will be here soon and his foundation provides wheelchairs to those that cannot afford them. He has two containers that will be her in November with a lot of medical equipment.

  12. Hi Don and all. I have been trying to find a good English Spanish form for Medical History to fill and and carry with us in the event there is a medical emergency while living/traveling in Panama. Trying to correctly recall all that important info in (the questions in Spanish) in the midst of an emergency is difficult. If any of your readers has an outline to copy and fill in, I would greatly appreciate it. Something with the Spanish equivalent of an ER form….medications, pre-existing illnesses, allergies, blood type, etc.

    Thanks for any input.

  13. Hi Vicki. Interesting subject. I will be interested in the findings. If any of the hospitals have a form in Spanish, I am sure we can get it translated if they don’t have the equivalent form in English.

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