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Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation – Jan 14th, 2010, Santa Ana, Costa Rica

January 14th, 2010 by under All, Costa Rica. No Comments.

We went to visit the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation today. We went to La Carpio, where they have an important project down there. That village is very different from rest of the Greater San Jose area. Mostly very poor people live there. When people mentioned La Carpio, local people would take it very different. For example, people would say “Oh my god, you went there?”, “That’s a terrible area to be and you shouldn’t be there.” Today we visited that area and had a much better understanding of the people there and Humanitarian Foundation.

Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation is non-profit organization committed to develop creative and economical solutions to social problems, especially to at risk group, such as women and children. The foundation started in 1997 and the La Carpio project started with just $300 budget per month. Now it’s managing about $10,000 per month. With the expense on hotel, buses, etc, it’s $15,000 per month. However, the things they accomplished there is amazing. They built day care centers, schools and clinic down there, which help the local community a lot. And a lot of the people in the foundation are volunteers.

Gail gave us a tour inside the La Carpio community. Most of the house there is very simply. They are made of metal pieces, cardboard pieces, etc. Most of the people just started here with a very simple shelter. Once they have a little bit money, they start to replace one wall. Right now, the entire company do have electric and water, where they used to drink and wash from the dirty river. However, there are issues with the water down there. There are pipe leakages, where the street water/dust and grey water goes in. On the other hand, the people there are very nice. They are friendly, pure and simple.

The Humanitarian Foundation also helped to build the first piece of cement down there for $4000. After that, local people think it made a huge improvement for the dusty and uneven road. Overall, the local community tries to extend little by little. Now they also found the literacy rate along cement road improved a lot.

At the end of the tour, we are introduced to Michael, a local young man. He was shot by a gun, and has to stay in the wheel afterwards. However, he is very talented in art and determined. Thus he started to concentrate on drawing and teach the kids in the community to draw as well. And a lot of his drawings carry great meaning as well. The organization did a charity sale on different kinds of hand made arts, such as necklaces, bracelets, purses, baskets and drawings. Our entire group made donation to the foundation as well.

In summary, this is a very meaningful visit. It showed us a vivid picture about the community and how determined effort and help can improve people’s life dramatically.

By the way, more pictures of the this site visit will be uploaded once we are back.


CIMA Hospital Visit – Jan 13th, 2010, San Jose, Costa Rica

January 14th, 2010 by under All, Costa Rica. No Comments.

Today we visited CIMA hospital in San Jose. This is the high end private hospital in Costa Rica. Costa Rica used national public health care system called CCSS. Compare to all the other health care facilities we see in Costa Rica, this hospital is a big contrast. Since most of the public health care facilities are free to public, the waiting time is a lot longer and service level is not as good in the public sectors.

 CIMA Hospital Visit Group picture with CEO Arden BennettCIMA Hospital Visit

CIMA hospital is one of the 3 private hospitals in Costa Rica. It’s established in 2000. It’s operated by International Hospital Corporation, headquartered in Dallas. It has other medical facilities located in Brazil and Mexico.

The CIMA CEO Arden Bennett, having 30-years experience in health care, gave us a brief introduction on CIMA today. Through the video, presentation and Q&A session, we learned a lot about CIMA and health care conditions in Costa Rica. Below is some new information we learned today.

  • CIMA is a general hospital with a lot of specialists, who are good at surgical areas
  • CIMA started to focus on the quality of service for 6 years
  • CIMA still uses mostly manual record, though it would like to go to electronic records in the future
  • The nurse salary in CIMA is only about $1000/month, which is a lot lower than US, but is quite decent in Costa Rica
  • CIMA is undergoing remodeling, thus to gain more competitive advantages over other two private hospitals in Costa Rica
  • CIMA received about 30% of foreign patients
  • CIMA’s cost is about 30% cheaper than US
  • CIMA receives similar profit margin as US hospitals
  • 30% of CIMA’s revenue is paid by insurance, while another 70% is paid by patient directly
  • CIMA has 100 patient beds
  • CIMA is governed by Costa Rica ministry of health as well

CEO Arden also informed us about the CIMA’s future direction and focus listed as below.

  • Further improve technology, such as buying more advanced equipments
  • To work on more complex patient and surgeries
  • To establish a new hospital in Liberia, where the other international airport locates
  • Maintain both local and international growth
  • Encourage more finance on the surgery to make it more affordable

CIMA officeCIMA equipmentCIMA Treatment Room 

After the informative session with the CEO, we did a hospital tour. The tour is a very intuitive and helped us to better understand the different levels in Costa Rica’s health care system. The overall impression we had on CIMA during the tour is very nice. CIMA is conveniently located in a valley, which has Marriot next to it and very close to a nice shopping plaza. The view for certain CIMA rooms are very nice and it might be easier for patients’ family to find parking space. We also saw the patient room, which seems to be as friendly as those in US hospitals. In contrast, people in public hospital might have to share beds due to the supply and demand imbalance. CIMA maintained a good practice of keep patient’s record private as well. And CIMA has a lot of advanced medical equipment as well.

Overall, CIMA is a very impressive hospital and it’s similar to US hospitals. From the visit, we gained a better understanding of how private hospital plays a role in Costa Rica’s health system.