Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Emphasis on prevention - Our Life in Costa Rica

During our Spanish class last Thursday, we were having an off topic discussion with our teacher, Shirley. We often use a portion of the class (it is a 2 hr lesson) to pick her brain about life in Costa Rica and she also answers any questions we might have about customs etc. (She is also the person who helped us get our house here last year)

Anyway, we were discussing the different horns that we hear passing by the house and she mentioned that one may have been from a health care worker. She then explained, quite matter-of factly, how health workers come around to every house once a year to check on the people (the population of Grecia is over 15,000). They have your full medical records, know what medicines you are taking and any vaccinations/shots etc that may be due. She mentioned that they check your heart and blood pressure and help with issues pertaining to your home and pets as well. What? (we looked at her and then each other -- with our mouths open) She then went on to say, she had tried on 2 occasions to take her toddler in for her scheduled vaccination but for different reasons, was not able to get it done. When the health care worker arrived, she knew all about her attempts, and had the vaccine with her, and gave it to the baby during the visit. It's all FREE!! What? (she looked back at us like "what" they don't do this in the U.S?)

Just another example of the difference in living here, as compared to, what we are used to back in the states.

Here's the way it goes
Penn State College of Health and Human Development
Although there are many differences between the Costa Rican health care system and ours, one of the most influential differences can be found in Costa Rica’s empowering emphasis on preventative care and promotion. This ideal is embodied in the unique health care workers known as ATAPs, who are trained with basic nursing and social work skills.

Part of our time in Costa Rica was spent accompanying the ATAPs on their “rounds” — people in rural communities are visited at their homes at least once per year by an ATAP. While there, the ATAP provides any routine vaccinations, dietary tips or basic medications members of the family might need. 
In addition to checking on basic health, the ATAPs also check each home for running water, electricity, and good treatment of any pets. If there are any social counseling needs, the ATAP will visit up to six times per year to accommodate these families. 
Visiting the ATAPs, hospitals and clinics, and learning about the Costa Rican healthcare system was an amazing experience for myself and all of the students involved. The trip gave us the opportunity to see community care on a whole new level, and opened our eyes to the vast array of approaches to improving overall health.  Source

Under the universal system, every Costa Rican citizen has health care coverage and can use the public system. Funded by a 9 percent employee income tax and a variable employer contribution, the health system provides care to all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or the extent of the treatment needed.

There are no bills sent to patients, and prescription medications are free.

And, WE can only imagine!
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