Fun with CAJA

Ξ November 4th, 2006 | → 3 Comments | ∇ CAJA, Costa Rica, Health and Welfare, Life in Costa Rica, Retire to Costa Rica |

blood_test.jpgA recent downturn in my health has brought me into very close contact with the CAJA system, and more accurately, the system in Hospital Calderon Guardia, the second largest CAJA hospital in Costa Rica.

There are two types of health care here, public (the CAJA) and private. If you are here in country with your (legal) residency, you may join CAJA for almost nothing. Very cheap insurance indeed. The private system is far more expensive but costs can be covered by buying any number of international insurance poiicies or by using your friendly, local monopoly, the INS.

So what do Tiger Woods and a lab worker in CAJA have in common?

RegisterWell before I answer, I must tell you I am a total 100% sissy when it comes to needles. I am not referring to the knitting type. I am referring to ANY needle that is stuck in ANY part of my body for ANY reason by ANY person (qualified or not) for any alleged medical reason. Should I be captured as a spy, there would be no need of torture. Show me a hypo, and I will sing like the fat lady.

BUT… I have learned if you do anything about 500 times each day, you will become a world class player. Taking blood at Calderon begins at 7 AM or so and continues for most of the day. It is an assembly line. Register, then get in line then wait. (See the photos and click them to enlarge.)

The prosEach of these vampires errr blood technicians, take about 600 – 800 samples each day, and just like the Tiger, they are GOOD. Normal techs can NEVER find my dumb veins, thus it is a stick-and-try again thing. Often 5-10 sticks. It is NOT fun.

Not so with these ladies and gentlemen at Calderon. These are “one stick” specialists and you are GONE… and they do it every freaking time!!! There is no trial and error. No playing “let’s stick the Gringo”. They are the Tiger Woods of blood techs!

The Process

Waiting in line CAJAAfter registering, you wait in a waiting area until you are called. You are then lead into a long room with a long counter. There are several blood stations. Adding to the ambience are gallon jugs of pee. Yup! One thing about a CAJA facility is there is never enough room for everything. A storage room for urine would, I guess, be totally out of the question.

They then park your butt in a chair, the tech does his/her rubber strap thing, taps your arm a couple of times, sticks you ONCE with a REALLY sharp needle, and you are DONE.

Glaaons of  peeI have now had about eight of these visits and, at least at THIS hospital, I no longer fear blood tests.

Oh… and if you ever get there, ask for Manrique or Francisca.

Tell ’em TicoGrande sent you!


3 Responses to ' Fun with CAJA '

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  1. Tony O. said,

    on November 9th, 2006 at 7:46 am

    You mentioned international insurance policies. I’ve been looking into these recently myself, but am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Do you have one that you have experience with and/or would recommend? I’m preparing to spend some time in Costa Rica next year.

  2. Tim said,

    on November 9th, 2006 at 9:45 am

    I do not. In the sidebar of this blog’s home page is one ad for international insurance. I have not used them, but I know folks who have and had no problems… though I also do not know their claim experience.

  3. Tony Grippo said,

    on May 4th, 2007 at 4:06 am

    Just seeing whats new, keep up the good work Tim. I love reading your Blog. Tony (uphog)

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