Expat accident victim languished during Caja doctors strike

A quick trip to the AM/PM left Ed Hansen, a former policeman from Atlanta, stranded for days without necessary medical attention in Hospital Calderón Guardia while Caja Costarricense medical staff members were on strike.

Last Saturday morning Hansen was struck by a motorcycle as he crossed Avenida 7 in front of Casa Amarilla, to get breakfast for his girlfriend and kids. The motorcycle kept going while Hansen was left writhing in the street with three broken bones in his leg.

Hansen said he knew he needed surgery.

¨I didn´t see him,¨ Hansen said. ¨I got hit pretty good. Now there´s nothing holding my leg on.¨

He was taken to Hospital Calderón Guardia where, unaware of the anesthesiologists strike, he stayed for five days with no treatment.

After realizing he was not going to receive speedy treatment, he asked to be transferred to Hospital Hotel La Católica in Goicoechea where he said he had to put down a $400 deposit for a room with no guarantee of being provided care.
Hansen said the doctors there told him his injuries were definitely serious and that he could not walk or be moved anywhere else — not even by plane, ruling out the possibility of being transported out of the country.

The doctors also told him they needed $10,000 before they could treat his injuries. He has Kaiser Permanente medical coverage from the United States.

¨The doctors said from their experience in the past with Kaiser they would need the money upfront to do the procedure,¨ Hansen said. ¨And Kaiser would reimburse me.¨

Hansen agreed to pay $1,000 dollars to the hospital to get approval for the surgery while the administrative staff negotiated the remainder of the bill with Kaiser.

Around 3 p.m. Thursday, Kaiser and Hospital Católica workers reached an agreement, and a doctor told Hansen he was approved for the procedure. However, no one provided him with specifics such as when the surgery would take place. He said he was left again, wondering what was next.
Finally, Hansen was taken in for surgery around 7 p.m. Thursday. He commented on his ordeal:

¨I don´t advise anyone to come to Costa Rica without consulting their insurance company. Anybody can be hit.¨

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