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Expats Blog

Emergency room visit at Mae Lewis

The thing with living with a baby, and not living like a hermit, is when someone gets sick, eventually everyone gets sick. I believe this is fairly common knowledge, but it always surprises me. Luis got sick a few weeks ago. Then, Alejandro got a little bit sick. While Luis’s illness waxed and waned, I eventually got the flu. Alejandro never got back to 100%, and after a few walk in clinic visits we ended up at the ER.

We’d seen a doctor at a walk in clinic twice in the three days before because Alejandro eventually developed a fever and I was paranoid. The doctor eventually suggested if the fever didn’t break by tomorrow, to go to the ER. I’d been to Mae Lewis a few times to see pediatricians or psychologists (I don’t know why, but living in Panama versus Costa Rica has been hard for me). I’ve also been to Hospital Chiriqui once before, and I’m honestly not that impressed with either one. However, I asked that we take him to Mae Lewis.

We got there, and went to the tiny emergency waiting room. Luis asked about a pediatric specialist, who was apparently out to lunch, and we’d need to wait 15 minutes. That was fine for us, so we waited, and 15 minutes later sat down with the doctor.

He took Alejandro’s history, and asked that we stop the antibiotics we’d been prescribed. He recommended a blood draw, and an XRay because we were also a little concerned about him being constipated. 10 minutes later, just down the hall, he was having his blood drawn, and 10 minutes after that we had the results indicating an obvious infection. We waited for the XRay technician to return, and 10 minutes later Luis was going over the results of those with the doctor while Alejandro and I paced the halls.

For me, I guess there were two things that were suprising. I think things were a lot faster than I thought. I remember having Alejandro’s blood drawn a few weeks back at a clinic in Costa Rica, and they emailed me the results in the afternoon. Definitely a 10 minute wait for that, and then for the xrays as well, was a surprise. I also definitely asked out loud – ‘does that include the blood and the xrays?!’ when I saw the final bill. I was sure there was a mistake, and this was only for the emergency room consult.

Potato quality photo of ER receipt.

I don’t know how I would feel still about the idea of having surgery there. If I was in the middle of a cardiac event, or had a broken bone, something that needed urgent, urgent care…I don’t know if I would feel wholly comfortable there.

That said, the care we have received there has always been good. Definitely the prices are very accessible, and having spent the majority of my life next to the United States, you always hear those horror stories and see crazy medical bills. I’d been to walk in clinics and pediatricians before in Costa Rica, but never an ER, nor had Xrays done. Definitely blood draws in Costa Rica were always much, much more than what we experienced that day. I’m still not sure – maybe there’s a baby discount?

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