Physicians might have been able to save the arm of a young German tourist if the Sept. 5 earthquake had not done serious damage to the hospital in Puntarenas.
The woman, Evelyn Jürgensen, 23, was taken on an odyssey by ambulance from Santa Teresa on the west shore of the Nicoya peninsula to, eventually, San José. By the time she got to Hospital México, doctors there said they could not save the badly fractured limb.
She had been taken to Hospital Monseñor Sanabria, a public facility in Puntarenas. But she was turned away and directed to San José. The delay in extensive emergency care probably was the reason surgeons could not save the arm, An emergency worker, Luz Marina Garcia, at the Puntarenas hospital said Friday that the earthquake caused so much damage that the medical staff is unable to treat emergencies. The woman said emergency workers there just stabilize a patient and have them transported elsewhere.
Inspections after the 7.6 magnitude quake showed that about 25 percent of the hospital suffered heavy damage. However hospital staffers said two weeks after the quake that services, including emergencies, had been restored.
The German government has called for an investigation by Costa Rica officials of the case. The woman was injured in a quadracycle accident Dec. 14.