Caja Takes Over Hospital In Wake of Fire

July 29, 2005

THE Costa Rican Social SecuritySystem (Caja) has decided not to suspendthe medical director and chiefadministrator of Hospital CalderónGuardia after a fire there July 12 left19 dead and millions of dollars in damages(TT, July 15).The Caja, which oversees thenation’s health-care system, threatenedto suspend hospital director Luis PaulinoHernández and administrator CarlosVílchez for failing to act on multiplewarnings that the hospital had a high riskof fires (TT, July 22).Hernández, who submitted a specialreport detailing his actions to the Cajalast week, insists he warned the organization’sleaders about the fire risk andwas not given the funding he requestedto make changes.The Caja also decided at its July 21meeting to take control of the hospital,including all staffing, budget and contractdecisions, for the next 18 months.This set off protests from CalderónGuardia staff members, who asked theCaja to reconsider its decision, accordingto the daily La Nación.The fire destroyed the fourth andfifth floors of the oldest part of the hospitalcomplex and caused estimated damagesof at least $15 million. Its insurancepolicy covers only $6.9 million, accordingto Carlos Montoya of the Caja’sDepartment of Properties and RiskAdministration; the hospital is seekingdonations to help fund the reconstruction.A telethon organized by theFoundation for Cancer Patients and heldSaturday in the Plaza de Cultura indowntown San José received mediocreattendance, according to La Nación. Thetotal amount raised was not available atpress time.For those interested in donating, thebanks BAC San José, Banco Nacional,Banco Popular and Banco de Costa Ricaall have special accounts set up for donations.Donations can also be made onlineat www.fundacancer.com and over thephone with a credit card at 295-9747.

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