At the beginning of this year, Repretel News reported that a Nicoyan had died due to the lack of a cardiologist at La Anexion Hospital. However, the director of the medical center has told The Voice of Guanacaste that the specialist will not arrive before next year.
According to the man’s wife (her identity has been protected), in addition to being a shoemaker, her husband was stayed active physically, and at the hospital they failed to diagnose his heart problem. He died in September of 2013 at age 52. “I asked a doctor about the chest pain he had and she told me that it would soon go away; he later died of a heart attack,” his wife said.
In addition, hospital officials indicated that the facility also lacks peripheral vascular specialists, pediatric surgeons and the equipment needed to do CAT scans or mammograms, and when the anesthesiologist is absent for health issues or vacation, that post is left empty and surgeries have to be suspended.
This newspaper consulted La Anexion’s director, Dr. Jorge Fonseca Renault, who continues to head the hospital due to the intervention of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS – Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) in December 2012; the intervention was extended last December.
“I still have not seen that article; I need to check it, but I can say that it is true that we do not have a cardiologist. We have always lacked one because we don’t have an echocardiogram— that is why we cannot have a specialist,” Fonseca explained.
The doctor indicated that every year, all medical centers, including La Anexion Hospital, need more and more high-tech medical equipment. The equipment can have a high price tag. “This echocardiogram can easily cost ₡120 million ($240,000),” he said.
Regardless, Fonseca’s assessment of the situation is that the equipment won’t arrive until after the construction of the new physical structure and the complete remodel of the old building. “We are currently dealing with construction, which is a costly project, so it is not the appropriate time to request it from the CCSS.”
Regarding that issue, according to Fonseca, “We would be asking for a recently-graduated specialist when we have the equipment, which won’t happen until the hospital project is finished (not before 2015).”
The medical director concluded saying that the hospital would only perform a heart operation in a life-or-death case, in an emergency. In the case of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, “There are the emergency doctors who are trained to deal with that problem, as well as the internists. We have two and four [of those], respectively,” he pointed out.