The Bocas del Toro hospital is located on Isla Colon, in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama. The hospital itself is in disrepair and relies on very outdated equipment. A trip through the emergency room at the Bocas del Toro hospital usually takes less than an hour. Tourists visiting here are treated well, and usually will not have to make an appointment.
The process for getting a normal doctor appointment is a day long task that starts around five in the morning. People are seen on a first come first served basis. First it is necessary to show identification and tell them what doctor you would like to see. Then they give out a paper that shows what order you will be seen in for that particular doctor.
Bocas del Toro hospital has a small patient waiting room. There are not enough chairs for everyone. Usually younger men will stand letting others sit. Many people choose to wait outside where they can sit down and get some fresh air.
Starting at eight people are first called to see a nurse who weighs everyone and writes down the reason for the visit in the folder. Then gradually people start to get called back to see the doctors. Many people wait until afternoon to get in to see the doctor.
The prices of prescription medications available at the Bocas del Toro hospital pharmacy are extremely cheap by American standards. Many Prescriptions are available at only one or two dollars. Services are also very reasonable, an X-ray costs ten dollars.
Unfortunately the Bocas del Toro hospital is in need of cleaning from floor to ceiling. Ceiling tiles are broken or missing. Windows have no screens. There is no air conditioning in the building. Insects are often seen around the inside the hospital, this includes mosquitoes.
Patient hospital rooms hold about ten beds to a room and have no privacy curtains. Despite the heat there is no fans available for use. The hospital does not supply any towels, paper products, TV, radios, clocks, pillows, soap, or hot water.
For Visitors coming into the hospital there is a dress code. Long pants (dresses are fine), no tank tops, shoes, and it states no stains on clothing. Patients must also follow these guidelines unless they are seeking emergency attention in the hospitals emergency room.
The Bocas del Toro hospital is not equipped to handle many situations. Often people are transferred by boat half an hour to Almirante hospital. From there they are transferred again by ambulance about 45 minutes to Changuinola Hospital. If the condition is very severe they may be transferred another four hours by ambulance to David. The hospitals in David have current technology and are modern even by American standards.