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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hospital San Rafael

On Friday, December 4, 2015, we boarded the 0630 Atenas bus to Alajeula for early morning appointments at our Seguro Social assigned hospital, Hospital San Rafael. Forty five minutes later, we were at the bus depot in Alajuela where we got a red cab to take us to the hospital. It's a short ride and cost about 1,000 colones, not including a tip (around $2.54 CAD).

My neighbor and friend Rose Mary told me there is a free hospital bus at the station - it runs back and forth. We didn't try it this time but will next trip.

Hospital San Rafael is very modern. It opened in 2004.

Looking from parking lot to emergency entrance and regular entrance is next on the right.


My doctor at our assigned clinic in Barrio Jesus gave me a referral to the mammagraphy clinic at this hospital. I received the referral in February of this year and the appointment was set for December 4th. Not a long wait at all. In Canada, I had to book a year in advance to get a mammogram. I had registered at San Rafael when I took in my referral.

My appointment was for 0800 and we got there early. I handed over my paperwork - which included a questionnaire in Spanish and previous Canadian mammogram results which I had translated into Spanish. We were sent through a door and down a hallway where there were chairs to sit on. It wasn't long before I was called down the hall to a room with the "squishing machine". The mammografia equipment was as modern as anything I had seen before and the technician was very nice.

We figured out my level of Spanglish and we were able to communicate well enough. After all, when you've had one mammogram there isn't much more to learn about what to do.

Back to the waiting room. Meanwhile, some more women had arrived - one woman pointed at her breast and we all said "si"!! Poor Lance. Not long to wait before I got the all clear that we could leave. Results will be sent to our doctor at the Barrio Jesus clinic and, if anything needs to be discussed before our next four month appointment, they will call me.

Lance also had a referral (to see an ear doctor). There are people on each floor of the hospital who help direct patients and we were told to go to the third floor. The third floor looks down into a light filled atrium on the second floor. We found the lineup we needed to be in but realized too late that Lance was entitled to stand in the "preferential" lineup because he is over 65 and seniors in Costa Rica are treated very well. We'll know next time to look for the marker for this special line.

As an aside, there are "preferential" lineups all over this country - in banks, in the medical clinics, when you are boarding a bus, etc. If you are disabled, pregnant, "mature", carrying a baby in your arms .... that's where you go.

The wait was not that long in any case and Lance is now registered at Hospital San Rafael and has his specialist appointment in June of 2016. Not a long wait at all for an appointment with a specialist.

There was a bake sale outside the hospital entrance and I bought a small bag of pastries stuffed with something sweet to eat on the bus ride back to Atenas and we were back to our town before noon. Stopped to pick up a few groceries, then taxi home. All done!

Thanks to our friends, Diane and John Reid .... I had gone with them twice before to San Rafael when Diane had appointments and they showed me the ropes. That made a big difference with our confidence in doing this visit on our own. If you find yourself in this position, reach out to your expat friends who have come here before you. Every time you accomplish something like this, in a foreign country and with limited language skills, you have come a long way and should feel very proud!


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