Tag Archives: Healthcare

Great Job Sharon

Great job Sharon. I just got on the Internet and saw a FaceBook post from Sharon Sample, who is handling the US Embassy Warden duties while I am out of the country. Her experience is worth reading. Healthcare, is one item that anyone moving to Panama has to have as a forethought and not an after thought. I have seen many similar cases where a person has been shipped to the Regional hospital after depleting their funds in one of the private hospitals.

Sharon lives in La Barqueta, which means a much more difficult time for her than I have, since I live in David. Here was the synopsis of her week. Her post is as a learning experience for those considering living in Panama.

A tough week turned out to be successful : An ailing American returned home!

Back story – After having the truck repaired we went to the Regional social security hospital to visit an American in need. He had been in the local private hospital for 3 minor surgeries. After spending for here a large chunk of money he transferred to the public hospital to save funds Huge difference – 6 beds to a room v.s. 1 or 2, and no ENGLISH. He speaks no Spanish

He has no family here and was actually here on a medical mission with Floating Doctors building a clinic for an indigenous tribe way out in the jungle when he had an accident of sorts.

Anyhow yours truly as an Embassy Warden with credentials was able to bypass the family only rule and do a welfare check. Mind you he was in the surgical ward and attached to multiple tubes, etc. which would need to be removed and the body closed up. Receiving transfusions to build up his blood and draining fluid from the chest. He wanted to go home! No one would let him…..
If he lived here my method and advice would have been very different. As it was I could see his point that not being absolutely critical he could go back and admit into his home hospital where he does have insurance.
It would take some doing but his doctor friends advised he should be able to make it!
I needed to consult with his doctor and in Spanish. Here the doctors are mandated to put in their time at the public hospital for 1/2 the day, then allowed to spend the other 1/2 in private practice at a private hospital.
Off I go to consult. His doc. did not want to release him until the weekend. The doctors administrative assistant and I had a long chat. There was worry about his lack of funding and ability to travel. Wound care, drainage,oxygen, etc.. I explained that he felt he could travel for a day, he has insurance at home to cover medical there so not to worry and that he would check himself in to his hospital once back stateside.
Should a problem arise en-route he could go to hospital in Panama City….
The doctor agreed he could be released against doctors orders if he insisted and signed a release of liability
He wanted to leave the next day Wednesday. Last night he made it home!
WOOT! So happy for him. Communication is key and the doctor was looking out for his best interest but how can you make a plea? Thank you United States Embassy for allowing me to help this man!

Valentine’s Dental Special

Saludos y a la vez es para compartir con los usuarios de Chiriqui Charter. Los descuentos como todos los años. En el mes del amor y la amistad. De 2 por 1 en nuestra limpieza dental que incluye el diagnostico de caries y encias atte. Dra. miriam Rodríguez. Pra citas previa llamar al 6807 6166 celular. Del consultorio o escribir a miriamperio@gmail.com

(Google Assisted Translation) Greetings and time to share with readers of Chiriqui Charter. Discounts as every year. In the month of love and friendship. 2 for 1 on our dental cleaning which includes the diagnosis of cavities and gum disease. Call Dr. Miriam Rodriguez. for appointment at 6807 6166 Mobile. For consultation, call 6807 6166 Mobile or write to miriamperio@gmail.com.

descuento clinica

Whole Recovery Center in Boquete

I received the following request for a guest post. I know nothing about the organization or facility and am posting as a matter of public information.

Hello Don,

I am the founder of Whole Recovery addiction treatment center in Boquete, Panama. I’d like to post a guest blog on Chiriqui Chatter regarding alcohol and drug recovery and rehabilitation in Panama in general.

Vlad Kogan, CEO
Whole Recovery Center

And now for the guest post.  Continue reading Whole Recovery Center in Boquete

Well I’ll be Dorned

DSC01125You may remember that a couple weeks ago I took a tumble and hit my right hip and right shoulder. I have given it two weeks to recover and as of yesterday, I was still having problems. Primarily with my right leg. I was unable to use my right leg to climb the two steps to our terrace and there was no way, I would have tackled the stairs at the Regional hospital for the Embassy.

As a result, I decided to visit Robert Watson. Several of his clients have written me about the work that he had done for them. Robert is from Germany, where the Dorn technique originated.

On one of Lilliam’s walks, she met one of Robert’s clients walking backwards up a hill near out house. He told Lilliam that when he started seeing Robert, he needed two canes to walk. He was now totally without any need of walking assistance.

With all the positive feedback I was receiving, and with two weeks of minimal improvement, I decided to give Robert and the Dorn method a try and see if it would speed up my recovery. Just like Chicken Soup, it couldn’t hurt. Continue reading Well I’ll be Dorned

Random Thoughts

Yesterday I posted on my possibly having a serious condition as a result of my deck injury. That post produced the results I was looking for with several recommendations coming in. Thanks to all that commented and called.

Related to the comments, several came in insisting that the Internet was not the best diagnostic tool and I should immediately rush to the emergency room.

This is where my random thoughts come in.

First, I should mention that I am extremely conservative and cautious when it comes to taking care of my health. I have annual physicals and never leave anything suspicious left unanswered

The next point, is that I think it is second nature, for those of us who come from the US, to make more use of a run to the emergency room than would be the practice of most Panamanians.The reason being that most Panamanians will only trust their health administration to someone they have extreme faith in and they make sure every dollar spent is for the right reason. Continue reading Random Thoughts

Deep Vein Thrombosis

My fall through the deck may have done more than I thought. I noticed last night I had a hard knot in the upper calf of my right leg. The knot is painful to the touch.

From an Internet search, I found the condition described perfectly. Apparently the fall may have damaged a vein in a condition called deep vein thrombosis.

I am treating it with heat and ibuprofen, but would like the name of a vascular physician in Chiriquí for confirmation of treatment.

From what I have read, it is of less concern if it is below the knee. I would appreciate information from others that may have experienced the same thing, especially if you have had treatment for it in Panama.

UPDATE: Later in the day.

I need to say that I think I am very fortunate to have some of the best readers in the world that follow my blog. It seems within seconds, I had calls and comments to help me in my decision of who to see.

Besides the comments, I had a Panamanian friend and doctor that reads my blog call from California. He said he felt that it was less serious than what I thought it could be, but did recommend seeing a doctor. I also received a call from another friend who had called his Panamanian wife in the US to get her recommendation.

All of the concern is very much appreciated.

I did take the recommendation of Hilda and saw Dr. Cattán (the Medical Director in Mae Lewis). He took a complete medical history and then sent me to the radiology area for some tests,

One was a sonogram to verify that the problem was less serious than a Deep Vein Thrombosis. Superficial phlebitis is what I think he called it. For that I got a gel to apply and 30 pills. A much better situation.

However with my past history he also requested some spinal x-rays and they showed a degeneration of the disks between several of the vertebras. Todays medical expenses were $45 for the office visit and $131 for the sonogram and 4 spinal x-rays.

After looking at the x-rays, Dr. Cattán recommended an MRI to get a better handle on that problem to be able to prevent more degradation. The MRI will run around $650.

I will say that I felt I was in very good hands and Dr. Cattán’s English was fine and definitely better than my Spanish.

Thanks again for the concern and recommendations. I consider today a positive day because I now have one more doctor to put in my arsenal against old age.

A Must Read

My friend Larry Mathews has updated his blog after returning to the US from Panama. His post is related to healthcare and especially about healthcare for expats living in Panama with COPD.

He compliments the care he received here with the exception that it was limited. The type of problem he mentions I suspect will get worse. I say this for the following reason.

There are many more healthcare facilities being created around Panama. There is a large addition being added to the Regional hospital in David which will provide for,heart transplants. There is the large hospital I mentioned in a previous post in Bogaba. There is a new hospital being created in Volcan. Probably something else being planned for Boquete.

Now you may say, what’s wrong with that? It sounds like healthcare is improving in Panama. Here is my concern. There are not enough good doctors now to take care of people living here. Where are they going to get the doctors to cover these new facilities?

There is protesting going on now to prevent Panama from bringing in doctors from outside Panama. If you are moving here, you have to hope that your needs for health care treatment are run of that mill medical needs.

When I was a kid, you did what your doctor said. He was the expert. Now, you better be willing to invest in researching your own problem. Thank goodness for the Internet.

I still maintain if you are moving to Panama, the first thing you should research is if you are healthy enough to do it. Spend as much time checking out your healthcare options are as you will in choosing which piece of paradise to buy.

Healthcare in the Boonies

In case you are not familiar with the word “boonies”, the following is a definition I agree with.

American, colloquial word for wilderness or places in the middle of nowhere, far from any civilization

When it comes to Panama, I consider the boonies some place remote from a real hospital. There are many areas in Panama that are lucky to have a clinic and often to get to a clinic could take you an hour.

I mentioned the other day that my friend Malcolm, had a recent healthcare experience. Malcolm was on his finca (Finca Tranquila), and slipped in the shower. Hey, it happens to all of us as we get older.

Some how he managed to rip his elbow open and realized that his home medical kit was not going to be enough. His nearest clinic was in Almirante. He told me that he was lucky because the water was calm and it was only a 20 minute boat trip to get there.

Had it been in the middle of a storm, it might have been a minimum of an hour and he would have been thrown all over the boat.

He was pleased with how he was attended to and the quality of the stitching and was allowed to go home. Over the next week, pain increased, he became weaker, and eventually had himself transported back to David and to Chiriquí Hospital.

By the time he got to the hospital, he was in a serious condition. He was told that, had he waited much longer, he might not have survived. It seems that the elbow has a special sack that helps protect the elbow. If it gets ruptured, great care must be taken to avoid infection, because the fluid of the sack would be a conduit for the infection to spread through the entire body. Continue reading Healthcare in the Boonies

Some Updates

I have been tied up for several days and still don’t have my head completely above water. The other day I, and other Wardens in Chiriqui, met with the New Chief of the ACS Unit for the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. He was in Chiriquí doing prison visits.

I have also been assisting a US citizen who was in Hospital Obaldia and that will probably be another post at some time for lessons learned by me.

Also, My good friend Malcolm Henderson, has had some healthcare experience, that I will share soon.

Now for some feedback that came as a result meeting the new ACS Chief and correspondence resulting from that meeting.

You may remember that I posted a scam warning had been posted on Chiriquí Watch the other day. It appears that what was reported is actually a Panama crack down on people living here on the tourist visa, which allows a visitor to stay 180 days at a time.

Cases have been reported of a people trying to exit on the 181th day, resulting in a huge fine and being advised to get a real visa. This should be considered to be a “Heads Up” for others.

Several people have been required to buy return tickets and provide proof that $500 was in their possession or credit cards to demonstrate financial viability.

All of this implies that those living in Panama using the tourist visa should be prepared for major annoyances at the Panama border.

Another item I have learned is related to converting US driver’s licenses into Panama driver’s licenses. I was advised to remind everyone that the US license must be Apostilled by the Panamanian government before the actual license can be applied for.

That means taking the document that the US Embassy certifies to the MFA on Tumba Muerto in Panama City. Therefore, if a US license is certified by the Embassy at an Outreach meeting, it would still require the person to make a trip to Panama City.

I was also told that they have recently also started to require all first time persons to go to the Sertracen location at Plaza Carolina for their driver’s licenses.   Renewals can be done anywhere, but first-timers need to go there.  You may want to check your local location to see what they say about that requirement.

Some might make the decision that, if that is the case, they might as well just to take the test in David and avoid the trip. My advise is spend the money and have your US license turned into a Panama license. I know of people that have spent two years taking classes and multiple exams and still don’t have their license.

More to follow, when I catch my breath.

Blood Donors/Receivers

Maybe this is worth posting since many are moving to Panama. If you have never paid attention to your blood type, it is worth knowing that Panama is not known for having blood on hand in case of emergencies.

This is even more critical during holiday seasons, because an appropriate donor might be away on vacation.

I am going to post a graph that reflects who are eligible donors and receivers for each blood type.

Other restrictions are often imposed by some hospitals in Panama, but some restrictions, such as age, are waved in an emergency.

Because of the fact that blood is not banked in Panama, it is important to be aware of such groups such as the Boquete Hospice & Health Foundation. They keep a registered list of donors and have helped many people, foreigners as well Panamanians.

Remember if you need to make a request, please provide the following information in order to receive assistance. Other requirements are on the Hospice website.

  • Blood Type
  • Hospital
  • name of recipient
  • Doctor requesting the blood

Following is a graph that shows who can donate for what blood type.