Time For Another Warning

Yesterday, I received an email from a gringo living in David. He had just been notified that a friend of his (that lived in Golfito, Costa Rica) had entered Panama at Paso Canoas and after entering Panama had an embolism and was brought to the hospital in David. He died while in Hospital Regional and none of his personal effects identified next of kin.

I contacted the US Embassy and they are working on tracing the next of kin. Following up this morning I went to Hospital Regional and spoke with them. The hospital is very anxious to know what to do with the body. While Hospital Regional has a morgue, it is not efficient and bodies don’t stay fresh long. They need authorization to transport the body to the David Morgue which has 6 refrigerated units.

So the ball is rolling with the Embassy on that one.

While I was talking to the admission office at Hospital Regional, they told me that they had another gringo from Boquete that had been admitted to the hospital. He was brought in alone ( I assume by ambulance) and they also had no next of kin to contact to notify of his condition. I have contacted the US Embassy about him as well.

Here is the warning. Get your passport out and turn to the back of it. It would be wise to write emergency contact information there so that if you wind up in the situation of the two examples above, there is a way for someone to be notified.

5 thoughts on “Time For Another Warning

  1. Having assisted over the course of several months with a friend’s relative, who was in the hospital until his death, there is another issue to be considered, and that is assigning a power of attorney to someone here in the country. There were personal issues which we could not resolve, in spite of the person having blood relatives here in Panama. The hospitals and the courts would not deal with them, because there was no way to prove they were relatives. (They did not have the same last name as one would here in Panama, and the patient could not speak to testify.)
    A spouse that shares the same last name would not have the same difficulties. A child with the proper id would not. If you have neither here, it seems only prudent to have a discussion with a lawyer about assigning a power of attorney to someone local, in case of dire circumstances.

  2. For those who don’t have their passport with them at all times, but who probably WOULD have a wallet or billfold with them, keeping a slip of paper with the name and phone number of a local contact who has next-of-kin and other pertinent information is a good idea. Also, my Panama Drivers License has the name of my contact person on the back.

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