Health Care in Panama - What you Need to Know and What to Do in Case of an Emergency19th August 2014
In Panama travelers do not need to be concerned about staying healthy. This is proven by the fact that Panama is a favored location for international Medical and Wellness Tourism. Patients seeking care come from around the world to be treated for common diseases, cancer, to have dental work or cosmetic surgery performed. Simply put, patients come to Panama to experience any medical-related treatment that you can imagine.
Later in this article, we will show you where to go if a health problem does occur. But first, let us explain why you should not be worried about your health while in Panama?
Let’s start with some comforting basic data. You do not have to be inoculated for diseases such as Malaria, Typhoid or Cholera or other ‘tropical’ diseases before coming to Panama. You do not have to worry about the water potability or the cleanliness of the country causing you health problems as well. All this is a very nice start for you.
Now let’s talk about quality. The top travelers hospitals and facilities you may need to visit if you have a health problem are generally set up on the American model. Your doctor will probably have studied in America or Europe. As a result, you usually can communicate with your physician in English and or Spanish. A nice surprise is that the doctors normally take the time to sit down and talk to you. Scribbling on a chart and rushing out of the room are not a common occurrence. Your nurses are normally trained in Panama but are extremely competent by international standards. If you need an ambulance, you can call 911 as if you were in the States and get one from a particular hospital or from a private service. The paramedics in the ambulance will more than likely be bilingual too.
Now let’s talk about cost. Medical tourists come to Panama because the treatment prices are a lot lower than back home. Depending on the affliction, and the source quoting, costs range from 50% to 70% lower than in the States, Canada or Europe. The same goes for prescription drugs and ancillary services.
How are these savings possible? (This is an inside scoop.) One factor that most people don’t know is that a medical practitioner is directly responsible (liable) for their actions according to Panamanian law. This limits malpractice suits and the related legal defense costs. The savings are then passed on to you the patient. Another factor is simply that the cost of living is cheaper across the board.
As an aside to the cost issue, let’s talk about insurance. The major Panama hospitals accept health policies from outside the country, whether if in full or partially, depending on the provider and the provider’s country of origin. The Panama government also gives you free health insurance for 30 days when you pass through immigration. Nice again.
Now let’s look at hospitals choices you may need - and are experienced in treating tourists - if a health issue for you or your family should occur (presented in no particular favorite order).
Hospital Punta Pacifica
Hospital Punta Pacifica is the newest all star in terms of Panama hospitals (it opened in 2005). Why? It is affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine International. (The Johns Hopkins network is rated as number one in the U.S. if you didn’t know.) This hospital is managed by administrative staff trained by Johns Hopkins as well. This is the only Johns Hopkins sister hospital in Central America.
The hospital promotes that it has the best technology in Latin America. This includes diagnostics and other real-time patient information exchange. The hospital specifically lists its specialties as Cardiovascular, chest pain, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology and Urology treatment.
They describe their patients as businesspersons, tourists and others that need medical help.
Location: Pacific Boulevard and Via Punta Darien (in the Paitilla district). Tel.: (507) 204-8000.
Paitilla Medical Center (Centro Médico Paitilla - CMP)
The Paitilla Medical Center has been helping patients since 1970 and is affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic. The hospital lists the following as their specialties - Cardiac catheterization, Critical care for newborns, Geriatrics, Hematology, Infectious Diseases, Neurology, Oncology (the only hospital in Panama with High Dose Rate Brachytherapy and a Linear Accelerator), Pathology, Prostatic Hyperplasia, Radiology and Rheumatology.
Location: Balboa Ave. and 53rd Street (in the Paitilla district). Tel.: (507) 265-8800.p
Clinica Hospital San Fernando
San Fernando is family owned and opened in 1947. It is affiliated with the Miami’s Hospital for Children, Baptist Health International, and the Tulane University Health Services Center. The hospital promotes its ‘home-like’ atmosphere to make a patient’s stay as comfortable as possible. The specialties listed are Critical care programs,Diagnostic images, General surgery, Laboratories, Orthopedic, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Radiology and Vascular surgery.
San Fernando also offers ‘Home Visits’ by doctors and nurses. Yes, this goes back to the concept of your family doctor coming to you. Another unique program is the hospital’s health service plans. These are basically an in-house insurance policy. Members pay monthly to protect their health against unforeseen problems. They also get access to necessary specialists outside of the hospital itself when required. And there is no deductible charged.
Location: Via España (in the Rio Abajo district). Tel.: (507) 305-6300.
Hospital Nacional has been providing care since 1973. The hospital is managed by an American hospital management company and is affiliated with Florida’s Kendall Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Since Hospital Nacional was originally for women only, it still specializes in Gynecology and Obstetrics. The hospital also stresses Cardiology, Emergency services, Genetics, Laboratories, Pathology, Radiology and Robotic surgery. In addition, Hospital Nacional serves United States veterans with a specialized emergency treatment service.
Location: Ave. Cuba, between Calle 38 and 39 (in the Bella Vista district). Tel.: (507) 207-8100.
Hospital Santo Tomas
Hospital Santo Tomas is the oldest public hospital in Panama since it was actually founded in 1704. It is also Central America’s biggest trauma facility.
Santo Tomas is actually two hospitals - one specializing in child care and the other in Cancer treatment. Other modern-day specialties listed are Cardiology, Dermatology, Plastic Surgery and Radiology.
Location: Calle 37 Este (in the Bella Vista district). Tel.: (507) 507-5600.
Hospital Santa Fe
Hospital Santa Fe opened in 1984. Specialties listed are Cardiology, Dermatology, Ear-Nose-Throat, Infectology, Gynecology, Orthopedics, and Plastic and General Surgeries. Santa Fe offers a long-term policy similar to that of Clinica Hospital San Fernando (described above).
Location: Ave. Frangipani and Via Simon Bolivar (near the Balboa district). Tel.: (507) 227-4733.
Now you know that your health is in good hands and where to go in Panama City. We hope this post helps you feel comfortable about visiting and staying well in Panama. We welcome you and are sure your visit with us will be a very happy and healthy one. If you are looking for a hotel in Panama city Panama, we are here to help you with anything you need.
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