Costa Rica, a republic of 4.2 million people, where native-Americans constitute only a fraction of the population and the health care system is the most comprehensive in Central America. Even though Costa Rica has probably the most stable healthcare system in Central America, this does not mean that they do not have particular needs.

Provider Training and Medical Equipment

The IMO Program’s initial involvement in Costa Rica consisted of providing specialized medical equipment, and hosting physicians and other health providers, primarily nurses and technicians, in Charlotte for various periods of training. These professionals spent time periods anywhere from 6-weeks to 6-months at Carolinas Medical Center, and were provided accommodations and the opportunity to extend and perfect their medical knowledge. Over the years there have been many intensive care nurses, transplant coordinators, dietitians and perfusionists from the Calderon Guardia Hospital as well as from the National Hospital who have participated in this program.

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Most recently, the Program has worked with the Calderon Guardia Hospital to implement digital photo archiving (PAC) and an inter-connecting system, much like the one installed in Guatemala. This PAC system will not only support cardiac, but it will also host other disciplines as well. The occasional support we have been providing of supplying technical knowledge and needed equipment will be extended. This cooperation of hosting travel and lodging for dozens of technicians, perfusionists, nurses and physicians from the Calderon Guardia Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital to visit Carolinas Medical Center for educational support has significantly attributed to their highly successful organ transplantation program and the upgrading of their neonatal surgical program.

Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Program

The relationship with Costa Rica is significantly enriched by the activity of Dr. Frederick Greene, Chairman of the Department of Surgery, who regularly sends his residents to work in San Jose’s prime health institutions, the Hospital Mexico.

The Program has worked with both Dr. Oswaldo Alvarado, Chief of Pediatric Surgery, and Dr. Carlos Salazar, Chairman of Thoracic Surgery to make heart transplantation in Costa Rica a reality. We have also provided both hospitals with advanced imaging equipment. We look forward to continuing our work with their cardiac transplant team and sending our pediatric cardiac surgeons to work with their Costa Rican counterparts.

Costa Rica Farm Medical Clinics

To provide basic medical care to those in need in rural areas of Costa Rica, the IMO Program donated equipment and supplies to two medical clinics in Chiquita-owned farms in Gavilán Sarapiquí and Gigante.

Chiquita began planning for the clinics in 2012 to provide 2,800 workers on the farm, and their families, with more timely, accessible and personalized healthcare services. A more complete, modernized clinic opened in 2013 with new and/or refurbished equipment, including examination beds and lights, defibrillators, chairs and beds and more.

The clinic is staffed with a full-time physician and nurse, and is open five days a week. Medical services include diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses, work-related accidents, physicals (annual and pre-employment), pharmacy and prenatal care.