A private San José hospital has become the first in Central America to get a stamp of approval from the Joint Commission, a non profit organization that certifies U.S hospitals.
The Clínica Bíblica Hospital has been working to get the international certification for two years, and with it, Costa Rica becomes only the third country in Latin America to have a Joint Commission-certified hospital.
Medical Director Dr. Jorge Cortés called the certification a “dream made reality.”
“It’s the dream of generations of the country’s health workers,” he said.
The certification (granted through subsidiary Joint Commission International) means that the hospital measures up to international standards in cleanliness, quality control and addressing patient complaints, and hospital officials and industry representatives say a Joint Commission certification will make the hospital more attractive to medical tourists.
“It’s actually quite important only because it is one of the largest accreditations across the health-care community,” said Sonna Krishana, the CEO of a New Yorkbased medical tourism company called Med Journeys.
Fewer than 300 hospitals in the world outside the United States hold a Joint Commission certification. The organization began granting the certification abroad in 1999, and grants an average of 10 annually, according to Jon Edelheit, president of U.S.- based Medical Tourism Association.
Clínica Bíblica Hospital was founded by Scottish-Irish Christian missionaries in 1929. Its original building along with the numerous additions over the years contains 120 beds, as well as more than 400 doctors including everything from pediatricians to surgeons to dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons.
In recent history, the hospital has taken up a position as one the country’s principal destinations for medical tourists.
Brad Cook, manager of the hospital’s international department, said the hospital receives about 20 inquiries daily from potential international patients and does an average of 20 operations a month on foreigners, including knee replacements, gastric bypass, cosmetic procedures and basic cardiac operations.
Costs can be as little as a quarter of what patients pay in the United States.
Others Scrubbing Up
The Clínica Bíblica is not the only hospital in Costa Rica that has wanted to get certified and attract more medical tourists.
CIMA Hospital, in the western suburb of Escazú, and Católica Hospital, in Guadalupe, east of San José, are going through the process as well, and both hospitals say they are expecting to be granted the certification after a final review, which normally takes several months.