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Doctors on Vacation Exacerbate Shortage

The wait by many patients needing surgery at San Juan de Dios Hospital in San José grew longer Tuesday after two of the hospital’s six anesthesiologists went on vacation, according to the daily La Nación. San Juan de Dios has approximately 7,500 patients on its waiting list for surgery, some of whom have been waiting two years or more.

A lack of specialists in Costa Rica – particularly anesthesiologists – is one of the main reasons patients who rely on the Social Security System (Caja) for health care face long waits for surgeries (TT, July 7).

San Juan de Dios’ anesthesiologist shortage has forced the hospital to indefinitely suspend outpatient surgeries and surgeries that require only a short hospital stay, San Juan de Dios Director Manrique Soto told La Nación.

San Juan de Dios’ lack of anesthesiologists has gotten worse over the past year as 16 of its 22 doctors have left for better-paying jobs at private hospitals.

The hospital’s two anesthesiologists who are on vacation have already had to cancel three previously scheduled vacations, Soto said.

San José’s Hospital Mexico has agreed to loan San Juan de Dios two of its anesthesiologists until February 2007, when four anesthesiologists in training are scheduled to graduate and work at San Juan de Dios.

Calderón Guardia Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital, both in the capital, are also evaluating whether they can loan anesthesiologists to San Juan de Dios, the daily reported.



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