San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ombudswoman Criticizes San Juan de Dios Hospital

At the request of a group of doctors at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San José, Ombudswoman Lisbeth Quesada took a tour of the public facility last week and wasn’t pleased with what she saw, said Ombudsman’s Office spokesman Amed Tabash.

Damaged infrastructure, dangerous working conditions and a lengthy waiting list for patients to get appointments and receive treatment are among problems Quesada observed Oct. 19 and plans to include in a report her office is preparing for the Social Security System (Caja).

A group of doctors filed a complaint regarding the hospital last week with the Ombudsman’s Office, prompting Quesada’s visit, Tabash said.

The Ombudswoman found that several columns in the building, which is more than 100 years old, are beginning to deteriorate, and the workshop where prosthetics are made has no ventilation, making it swelteringly hot for workers. Additionally, the hospital’s waiting list has about 7,500 patients who have been waiting four to 40 months for specific services.

Quesada’s office is preparing a report spelling out these problems and suggesting ways to remedy the situation, including building a hospital in the southern part of San José.

One of San Juan de Dios’ problems is the saturation of patients that arrive from the south side of San José because there is no periphery hospital nearby, Tabash said. “It’s urgent that another hospital is built to meet this demand,” he said.

The Ombudsman’s Office is also considering asking the National Emergency Commission (CNE) to declare San Juan de Dios in a state of emergency, Tabash said.

“What we saw there was a true emergency,” he said.

The Ombudsman’s Office will be completing this report in the next couple of weeks and plans to work with the Caja to assess its plans for improving the country’s public hospitals, he added.


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