The Other Side Of The Story

Panama is always hard to define, when it comes to healthcare. You can hear stories of super care and professional bedside manner and you can hear about uncaring doctors that see gringos a source of money to be grabbed and discourteous service.

Truth be known, you can find both sides and the key is to have good advice ahead of time in case of an emergency. I have had doctors that I have felt were equal to the best I have had in the US. I have also had some that I felt saw me only as a source of money and the chosen treatment might have been decided on which would bring in the most profit.

I was just reading a blog post by a friend of mine, Bob Hatting describing a recent scare he had. I had talked to him right after the first scare and his current blog post describes what happened after I had talked to him.

I think reading his post is wise to anyone moving to Panama and interested in healthcare in Panama. Anyone can have Bob’s experience. When you get to be Bob’s and my age, things are going to break and you need to know the right fixer-upper before you go take who is on call.

HERE is Bob’s post.

9 thoughts on “The Other Side Of The Story

  1. Scary but I believe every word he said. If I have something serious and have a little time, I’m on the next flight to the U.S. Thank God I have Medicare ‘A’ and ‘B’. If I don’t have a little time I’ll put my care in Mae Lewis’s care and hope for the best.

  2. This is so alarming. About a year ago I went to the emergency room at Hospital Chiriqui – it was about 2 a.m. I had difficulty breathing, I was sweating, and feeling very anxious – pretty classic signs for a cardiac event for a woman. When I got to the hospital I was dealt with by a very surly doctor. There was no cardiologist around and no one planned to call one. I was put on an IV, given injections that were not explained to me, and had blood taken to see if I had had a heart attack – which, fortunately, I had not. But what if I had?
    I have begun to have grave misgiving about Hospital Chiriqui for various other reasons. But I don’t know what the alternative is. I do not have private insurance for Mae Lewis. I have really wondered about my chances in the public hospital. I am not one of the people who can pay a 50% or even 30% of a grossly over-inflated bill. Running back to the US is not an option either – especially if one is in critical condition. What to do!!!

  3. Strange.. I read the author’s episode and round robin trip with doctors 1-4..

    Abruptly, we arrive at the office of doctor #5 and no mention is made of how the author ended up with #5 and.. if #5 was known to the author prior to the health incident then why did the author not just start at 5 instead of 1?

    I’m sure I am missing something here..

    People, please help me out; is it to be understood that in David, Mae Lewis is the hospital of choice? If not, where? If so, is Mae Lewis private pay or some type of insurance.

    Maybe this stuff is posted on the blog elsewhere? I’ll wait a few days & check back in.


  4. My message is that everyone should plan for an unknown event. Checkout doctors and get recommendations ahead of time. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of chance. I believe that good care can be found in both Mae Lewis and Hospital Chiriquí.

    Some things can only be done in Hospital Chiriquí. Some things can’t be done in any hospital in Chiriquí.

  5. Donn,

    Your points are well-taken, although I daresay that variable quality health care issues apply in any country, including the U.S. Still, your recommendations toward the end of the posting are certainly sensible.

    Reading Mr. Hatting’s story, I would also add another common sense note: Don’t ever, ever, piss off your attending health care folks; Hatting acknowledges his error in his narrative, but frankly, given where he was (and I don’t think he speaks Spanish), he was lucky that he only ended up with a few hours of exile in a public health facility; could have been much worse….

  6. Ok, In Hatting’s words:

    “Yesterday, I met with a doctor of my choice. (Doctor# 5) I showed her my test results including my EKG’s. I asked her what she would do…she indicated the Plavix and the Exforge was a good call. The half a sleeping pill was good, too. She took my BP, it was 130/90. The best since this whole thing started. She gave me her private cell number and told me to call her anytime and she would make a house call, too. I’m confident I’m in good hands and now I can mend.” Bob

    >>Ok, so the his ‘doctor of choice’ was the last to be consulted. Perhaps Hatting was not ‘with the program’ after the symptoms presented.

    The lesson I am learning here is to find a competent general doctor or 2 now, while you feel good & stick with ’em. Hatting obviously doesn’t want to spill the beans on who doc #5 is and maybe he is smart for doing so.


  7. sounds like Dr no 3 did the right thing, whether the receptionist was rude or not…..

    having lived in Sweden with social health care, I`ve been used to lots worse….here in Houston its been nice , but expensive…..

  8. Don gave the best advice. Plan…plan and plan in advance, specially if you have a medical condition. Second advice here is find a good and competent general doctor and any other specialist and stick with them and keep their cell phones handy for any emergency. Finally, good communication skills (in spanish if possible) is a must.

  9. Tambopaxi,
    I DO speak spanish and yes I made a mistake by questioning his fee. At one end of the hall in the Er the EKG was $23.50. He was charging $145.00 for the same test and wanted another $145.00 for a stress test. I’ve been in Panama a long time. This is the typical GOUGE THE GRINGO crap we deal with everyday. With all his advanced degrees he still thinks like the fish monger that tries to double the price of a corvina. His revenge — sending me to regional was life threatening.
    I mention no names because of the defemation laws in Panama. I now have a “guardian angel” who comes to my house and will attend at all the necessary tests and procedures should I need to move to another level.

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