San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Red Cross to suspend ambulance service to Caja hospitals

The Costa Rican Red Cross announced on Friday that beginning Sept. 15, it will suspend patient transfer services at public hospitals and clinics in the northwestern province of Guanacaste and in the Northern and Southern Zones, because the government has fallen drastically behind on payments to the organization.

Costa Rica’s Social Security System, or Caja, owes the Red Cross ₡1.4 billion ($2.8 million), according to a press release from the Red Cross. According to Red Cross General Manager Ingrid Camacho, 911 emergency calls will be answered and ambulances will continue responding to emergency situations.

However, the Red Cross says it will stop transferring patients between public hospitals, clinics and private homes. The transport service is part of an agreement between the Caja and the Red Cross. This agreement establishes that payment for transfer services must be received in 30 days after service is rendered.

According to the Red Cross, the Caja has failed to make these payments in recent months, forcing the organization to cancel the debts with its own budgetary spending.

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