Travelers to Costa Rica’s northern province of Guanacaste – home to outstanding tropical beaches, world-class all-inclusive resorts, volcanoes and beautiful tropical forest – can rest easy knowing that Guanacaste is also home to premium medical care services.
Costa Rica is an exceptionally healthy place to live, according to official information about the country. In fact, the United Nations has ranked Costa Rica in first place among other Latin American countries for the development of curative and preventative medicine. The United Nations also states that about 98% of Costa Ricans have access to healthcare with the country’s socialized medicine program.
Overall, Costa Rica maintains a high level of medical care and services for being a developing nation in Central America. In the two main cities of Costa Rica – the capital of San Jose and Liberia, which is considered the “capital” of Guanacaste – you can find many healthcare facilities, both public and private.
People who are used to medical care in North America will find the public hospitals to be older and may seem run down. Even though the hospitals may not look so attractive or organized, these public facilities are where many of the best doctors in the country work and the hospitals usually have good medical equipment. Additionally, certain facilities have the top cardiac, burn unit, and trauma specialists in the country.
Private hospitals are often referred to as private clinics and are newer. Private clinics charge for service. Usually only middle to upper income level Costa Ricans are able to use private clinics; however, for someone coming from North America or Europe, prices are usually much lower than prices paid in their home country.
In Liberia, Guanacaste, there are three main private hospitals/medical clinics.
The San Rafael Archangel Hospital and Medical Clinic is located in the center of Liberia. First opened in 2006 as a private clinic for all income levels in the Guanacaste area, demand for services led to a second-phase expansion of the clinic in 2008. To help meet growing health care needs in the area, a modern hospital recently finished construction and opened, significantly improving private health care coverage in the heart of Liberia, according to hospital information.
San Jose’s famous CIMA Hospital (in Escazu) opened a satellite mini-hospital in Liberia in 2012. The new private medical clinic possesses a laboratory, pharmacy, radiology department, a 24-hour emergency room, and operating rooms. The CIMA hospital serves the 270,000 permanent area residents and some 500,000 tourists who visit Guanacaste each year. It is a first class hospital with cutting-edge medical equipment, located in the Pacific Plaza commercial center in Liberia. CIMA has agreements with the U.S. Veterans Administration and affiliations with the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
The internationally-recognized private Clinica Biblica Hospital of San Jose also opened an ancillary clinic in Liberia, Guanacaste. This branch has a full-time bilingual doctor who has access to some 35 specialties from its parent hospital in San Jose. The clinic also has a laboratory, pharmacy and insurance office.
Besides hospitals and medical clinics, just 15 minutes away from Liberia in the town of Sardinal, the private company Lifeguard International offers emergency medical care, ambulances and air ambulance service 24 hours a day. Lifeguard also offers services for chronic patients (diabetes, hypertension, etc.), pre-natal care, medical consultation, bilingual doctors and staff, U.S. style clinics (minor surgery labs), air-conditioned facilities, pharmacy discounts and alternative fee structures.
Good quality and affordable medical care is additionally available throughout the Guanacaste “Gold Coast” at a variety of pharmacies, dental offices and small medical clinics, and by reputable acupuncturists, naturopaths, massage therapists and chiropractors.
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By Shannon Farley