Hospitals – not your usual tourist destination!

Did you know that tourists receive 30 days of FREE medical coverage in Panama? Well, last week we decided to try it out…

Hanging out in the Emergency Room at the San Felix hospital in Panama!

Hanging out in the Emergency Room at the San Felix hospital in Panama!

On our first morning at Naturalmente (BEAUTIFUL boutique cabañas in Las Lajas, a lovely little beachy town), Lumito tripped in the room, fell, and hit his head on the edge of the leg of a table. The poor little gaffer was BAWLING – rightfully so! There was some blood around his eye. I took out our trusty (little) first aid kit and cleaned up the blood around his eye. He stopped crying and we thought we had fixed everything. We headed over to breakfast to enjoy the AMAZING spread of food that Chantal and Gabriel (the owners of this fabulous place!) had laid our for us!

Señor Luma had just proclaimed “WOW! This is going to be a GREAT breakfast!!” when I looked over at Lumito and noticed that he had just been touching his head and that there was now blood on his fingers… I took a closer look and YIKES! It turns out that the blood that was around his eyes came from the gash in his head and he must have spread it from his head to around his eyes… Chantal and Gabriel pulled out the much larger first aid kit, but we quickly realized that a trip to the local hospital would be our first tourist destination in Las Lajas!

Chantal kindly loaded us all up in to her truck and drove us the 5 minutes to the hospital in San Felix. She then helped us to navigate the hallways and find the ER (cause let me warn you, signage in Panama appears to be “optional” with most cities, roads, and buildings, opting NOT to waste money on piddly things like signs!), and then she happily waited with us while Lumito got treated. We could have easily (and happily!) taken a taxi back when we were all done, but she would have none of that!

Taking advantage of this free healthcare was easy! We presented the little flyer that we received at customs, handed over the passports, and voila! I had to laugh when 1) we were called in to the examining room and 2) when I saw his file. Lumito has 3 very Spanish names and then my last name as a middle name… They managed to change the name “Scherz” (a difficult enough name for English speakers!) in to “Sanchez”! 🙂

Stitches are new to me (I once had my knee glued up) so I am assuming that it all went well… I stayed with Lumito for the procedure and I had to (inwardly) laugh about the differences in the medical system. Naturally, things were a lot more relaxed then I imagined they would be in Canada. The doc was wearing ripped jeans with his “doctor” shirt, he was chewing a candy the whole time, and just before he gave Lumito the anesthetic, a friend of his walked by so they gave a sort of high five (you know, the kind you give when you are wearing surgical gloves and you are holding a needled in your hands!) and got side tracked talking… Finally the nurse waved the bottle of anesthetic in his face to draw his attention back… 🙂 After the stitches were all done, they took an X-ray of Lumitos head to make sure his skull wasn’t cracked (which is HIGHLY unlikely, but they like to be thorough and I am ok with that!) and the doc offered us to take the x-rays home, if only we had a jump drive!

Lumito spent the rest of the day sporting his “special” hat” to keep the bandage in place (which he actually loved so much he didn’t want to take it off until the next day!). And after such a traumatic experience, we figured we deserved some ice cream so we treated ourselves to some locally-made gelato – it was DELICIOUS!

Our well-earned treat - Chiricream gelato - locally made by Italian ex-pats!

Our well-earned treat – Chiricream gelato – locally made by Italian ex-pats!

This wasn’t how we had intended to spend out first day in Las Lajas, but all things considered, we had a great day… We did manage to get a day at the beach and it was GORGEOUS – there is a big tide and the water is nice and shallow which was great for Lumita to run and play in! We plan to go back to Las Lajas and Naturalmente – but we hope to skip another trip to the hospital!


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