San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Inaugurates Alajuela Hospital

PRESIDENT Abel Pacheco inauguratedthe new Regional Hospital ofAlajuela on Sunday, using the opportunityto call for Costa Ricans’ continuingsupport of the Social Security System(Caja) at a time when corruption scandalshave besmirched its name.At the hospital’s opening, Pachecopraised the people of Alajuela for “fightingwithout rest for decades, with infinitepatience and admirable perseverance” forthe new hospital, located in the capital ofAlajuela province northwest of San José.The old Alajuela hospital had 203beds, five operating rooms and no externalconsultation facilities, and covered14,000 square meters, while the newfacilities include 310 beds, eight operatingrooms, 46 modules for external consultationsand a total size of 34,867square meters. Its construction cost morethan $36 million and involved more than700,000 people, according to a statementreleased by Casa Presidencial.The President said the hospital is anexample of the many ways in which theCaja has helped Costa Rica achievenational health advances, such as aninfant mortality rate among the lowest inall developing nations and a lifeexpectancy that is among the highest inthe world.He added that “we will defend SocialSecurity with all the forces of our spiritand with all the determination of ourcharacter,” referring to the corruptionscandal that has enveloped the Caja inrecent months, involving the allegedreceipt by former Caja officials and ex-President Rafael Ángel Calderón of illegalpayments connected to a governmentcontract to modernize Caja hospitalequipment (see related story).

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