THE Robin Hood of private hospitals that takes payment from those who can afford it and dishes out its services to some who cannot, is expanding.
At a ceremony attended by Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco and San José Mayor Johnny Araya as well as medical staff, the ClínicaBíblicaHospital laid the first stone on a new building Wednesday.
The first phase of the San José expansion project carries a price tag of $20 million and should be finished within two years.
The new hospital building will house emergency rooms, laboratories, four new operation rooms that will bring the hospital’s count to nine, intensive care wards, 90 beds and other services.
THE second phase will be the construction of a multi-leveled parking structure with a helicopter-landing pad, and the final phase will be the linking of their new additions with bridges and tunnels.
In the ceremony this week, Pacheco and others signed a copy of the Bible, and the President highlighted the ways that Costa Ricans have improved their health over the years, including a decreased rate of infant mortality and longer life expec-tancies.
“The Clínica Bíblica deserves a special mention as it has been faithful to those missionaries, Christians and humanitarians who founded it. It has maintained and strengthened its social programs, which in 2003 donated more than ¢150 million ($354,000) to those who need assistance.”
THE clinic also manages 17 small community health clinics around the country, including one as far south as the OsaPeninsula.
A team of health professionals visits impoverished communities around San José and the country, providing lectures on family planning and basic personal care, such as the importance of brushing teeth.
In the south-central San José neighborhood around the hospital, pastors and health professionals distribute food and try to quell the social problems such as prostitution and drug addiction, according to hospital representative Susana Guzmán.
“We want to help the nearby community,” Guzmán said.
CLÍNICA Bíblica was founded by missionaries in 1921 as a medical center that gave free health care to children and mothers.
It lost its funding in 1968, when the Misión Latinoamérica, its sponsor, deemed that Costa Rica had overcome its deficiencies in providing health care and did not need a free clinic.
Since then, under the management of the Association of Costa Rican Medical Services (ASEMECO), the hospital has operated autonomously, paying for its social welfare programs through the proceeds it generates from providing health services to those who can afford to pay.
The hospital employs 600 health professionals and 400 doctors.