CAJA = Costarricense de Seguro Social (aka Costa Rican Social Security)
EBAIS = Equipos Básicos de Atención Integral en Salud (Basic Teams of Global Healthcare)
Recently I had the misfortune of pinching a nerve in my lower back. Anyone who has experienced this knows how painful it can be. I put up with it for a few days before deciding it was time to see a doctor.
We taxied to the EBAIS clinic in Barrio Jesus. This is the clinic we were assigned to by the CAJA. It is the first step in the ladder of treatment.
If your Spanish is weak like ours, at least for dealing with medical problems, a good idea is to translate your problem from English into Spanish and print it out. Hand it to the receptionist and then the doctor - although our doctor speaks English.
I must have appeared to be in some significant pain because I was seen almost right away. The doctor wrote down my problem in my file and prescribed a pain relieving injection, muscle relaxants and anti-inflamatories - all STAT.
Another taxi ride into Atenas to the EBAIS clinic there to hand in the scripts at the prescription counter. You will need to show your carnet (medical card), proof that your CAJA is paid up to date (receipt) and your cedula (ID card). Then you sit and wait until your name is called to pick up the drugs. In the case of scripts for injections, these are filled at the prescription area and a nurse comes by regularly to pick them up. Your name will be called and you head into a small room for the shot. Neither Lance or myself heard my name being called but a young lady came to get me and I don't know how she knew who I was. Or maybe it was obvious - I guess we stand out because anyone can tell we are not Ticos.
So now we know how injections are dealt with and where we have to go. Every visit we learn something new. Although things seem confusing at first, it becomes clear that there is a smooth running system in place.