MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Gone are the days when getting world-class health care in Nicaragua meant getting on a plane to Miami or Costa Rica. Today, people are coming here from the United States and Costa Rica for top-rate health care at a “developing world” cost. When Managua’s Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas opened in 2005, it was just as unknown in the world of health care as Nicaragua was. But in a short amount of time, the hospital has managed to make a name for itself and the country.
With world-class facilities and the country’s top doctors and specialists, “Vivian Pellas” has since become synonymous with “hospital” among the foreign expat and diplomatic missions in Nicaragua.
Now, the hospital, which is scheduled to complete its U.S. accreditation by the Joint Commission International in February, is setting its sights on becoming a player in the increasingly competitive medical tourism market.
The hospital already treats an average of a dozen-plus foreign patients each month, and an increasing number of those are now entrusting the hospital with elective surgeries,which on average are three to five times more expensive in the United States.
According to hospital spokeswoman Vana Soza, a growing number of U.S. patients is seeking gastric bypass surgery at Vivian Pellas, where the cost is less than one-third the price of having the procedure done in the United States. So even with airfare and a hotel included, the whole package in Nicaragua would cost about $10,000, compared to upwards of $30,000 in the United States.
In addition to attending medical tourism conferences in the United States to put itself on the international radar, Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas has also set up an office and bank account in Miami to target Nicaraguans living abroad. Soza said Nicaraguan expats are also taking advantage of the less expensive health services in their native country by combining a trip to see the family with a quick nip and tuck.
The hospital also wants to give Costa Rica’s medical tourism industry a run for its money. Soza said Vivian Pellas’ prices for many procedures are 20 percent less than in neighboring Costa Rica.
The biggest savings, however, are in orthopedic surgeries. Hip or knee replacements at Vivian Pellas cost about seven times less than in the United States.
With savings like that, any recovery is sure to feel less painful.
For more information on Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas, visit its new English-language Web site at www.metropolitanomedicaltourism.com.