“Is it safe there?”
And the second ever popular question was,
“What about health care?”
About a month ago we posted an article about doctors, emergency services and hospitals here in Nicaragua. Although our family doctor is well trained, inexpensive to visit and readily accessible when we go to see him – there is always a wait.
But lucky for us if we happen to have a minor ailment we have the option of going to one of many pharmacies. Surprisingly many pharmacies in Nicaragua even have a doctor on-site available to do quick consultations.
In Granada our pharmacy of choice is Farmacia El Rosario. We’re not sure who Rosario is, but Manuel the pharmacist speaks English very well, and more importantly knows his business.
Each time Elisha & I have gone to see Manuel he listens attentively while we describe our aliment in detail. He’ll ask a question or two before walking to the shelf to get what we need. He usually comes back with a couple of choices to discuss with us. He gives us the facts, lists the pros & cons of each medication and helps us make an informed decision on which is best for us.
Although Manuel’s not a doctor he has been in the business long enough to have seen just about every type of ailment come and go through his pharmacy. His hours are great and he always greets us with a welcoming smile.
What’s even better about Farmacia El Rosario? No waiting room! In fact, there really is no room. If you take one full step off the street you are standing at the counter.
Many of the drugs we have purchased at Rosario’s would require a prescription if purchased in Canada, but here in Nicaragua just about everything can be bought “over the counter”. The costs of common medications are much lower than in Canada or the United States with the more complex meds priced similar to what you’d pay in Canada. All tablets are sold per pill. If you don’t need 50 Gravol – that will expire before you ever use them – you can buy just two.
Although we haven’t had any major medical mishaps since we left Canada 8 months ago we can now say with confidence that health care in Nicaragua is still not a concern.
It’s been almost 3 weeks since I started feeling some discomfort in my right eye. The self diagnosis was a scratched cornea. According to the research Gord did an injury like this can take some time to heal. Not too terribly bothered by the pain I didn’t think it was necessary to see a doctor .
Until 2 days ago…
My eye started feeling worse, instead of better so I called HEALTH Link Alberta and spoke to a nurse. She asked me a few questions and then recommended I see a doctor within 24 hours.
A bit more than 48 hours after my phone call to the nurse I had an appointment with Dr. Blanco. He began by taking down my name and age and asking a few questions regarding my medical history. After taking my weight he had me lie down on the examining table while he listened to my heart, checked my blood pressure, listened to my lungs, checked my abdomen and then looked at my eyes. He got me to stand up so he could check my back for any problems. He then made his way back to his desk and confirmed that I was in good health. There was no dirt, dust or sand in my eye, but as I suspected my cornea is scratched.
Dr. Blanco then pulled out his prescription pad and got down to business. He wrote me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory called Cataflam and some medicated eye drops called Clodex. He suggested I rest my eye and continue to wear my sunglasses. He said if my condition doesn’t improve after 1 week I should come back to see him.
After reviewing the details of the prescription with me Dr. Blanco passed it over, along with a slip of paper that had the word “normal” written on it and explained that I would be charged for a “normal” visit. He also gave me his business card with all of his contact information including his home telephone number, cell phone number and email address. Yes, that’s right his home telephone number!
With $100 in my pocket I made my way out to the front desk to pay my bill. Dr. Blanco’s receptionist informed me the charge for this “normal” visit was just $16 USD. My prescriptions came to a total cost $11.70 USD.
Dr. Blanco spoke perfect english, his office and examining room resembled that of one in Canada. He was efficient and professional and I felt at ease and very comfortable with him and the treatment plan he provided.
Many times Gord and I have been asked what the health care system is like in Nicaragua. From the research we did before our move it wasn’t really a subject on our list of concerns. My recent date with Dr. Blanco confirmed everything we learned through our research. Doctors, health care and medications are readily available and very affordable in Nicaragua. The care is comparable to what you’d receive in North America.
I suppose you may be wondering how I found this great doctor. Well, he was referred to us by our landlord, Glenn. Glenn’s wife Jeannie had Dr. Blanco perform emergency surgery to repair two strangulated intestines. In addition to Dr. Blanco, present during Jeannie’s surgery was an assistant surgeon, an anesthetist, a chief nurse and additional nursing care with 3 assistants and there was a nurse, awake by Jeannie’s bedside round the clock.
The $800 charge for this surgery covered the cost of the operating suite, Jeannie’s overnight stay, follow up for pre-release, follow up in Dr. Blanco’s office, a sonogram, an EKG and a follow up check up to to have her stitches removed. Dr. Blanco even transported Jeannie from Granada to Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas in Managua (where the surgery was performed) in his own vehicle.
Based on these experiences I have say if you’re planning a trip to Nicaragua or making a permanent move here and are concerned about health care for you and your family (including your children) you shouldn’t be.
Family & friends if you’re concerned about my eye don’t be. I’ve only used the drops twice and I’m feeling better already! 🙂