To all of the staff from the Hospital Monseñor Sanabria, in Puntarenas, and thousands of insured ones from this province, the Nicoya Earthquake, hasn’t finished yet.
Even though six months have passed since that morning of September 5th in which an earthquake moved the country with the strength of 7.6 degrees in magnitude, today the medics, nurses, administrative staff, and patients from the Hospital keep fighting the adversities that the earthquake left behind.
The big quantity of debris piled up in the back of the medical center make easy to understand why the Hospital had to move the majority of its services to 12 different places throughout the city, and to another province (Alajuela, Orotina), at 33 kilometers away, so they didn’t stop the services completely.
It’s because of this, that for a local, moving to the hospital isn’t the same as walking straight to the 10 storey building that stands tall across the coast
Right now, a patient has to know if his appointment is in an old nun house, an evangelic church, in the old Firefighter station, or in one of the health areas in Barranca or Esparza, just to name a few examples.
Even facing this reality, staff and insured ones don’t get upset, they say instead that the earthquake gave them courage to put a good face to the bad times.
“It’s like learning how to walk again”, said about the situation in the hospital, the father of the center, José Luís Infante.
He lost his chapel that was on the third floor and now he runs the ceremonies under a tent at the parking lot.
The father wasn’t the only one harmed, all of the departments had to take their things out of the tower and take them to other places, to store a lot and use a few due to the lack of space.
The previous could also be explained in numbers, from the 25.000 square meters that the Hospital had, the earthquake damaged 16.000 (more than 60%). With these remaining resources it has to take care of 500.000 people.
The area of hospitalization was one that suffered the most, since, from 218 beds, there are only 40 now, and they are not necessarily in places with adequate conditions.
For example, what once was the Physiatry gymnasium, turned temporarily into Women medicine, but with only 10 of the 42 beds it had, the same happened to the men section.
The psychology consults, are done in a mobile unit that’s on the yard, and was borrowed by the Parrita Clinic.
What can we say about the surgeries? The numbers are again, shocking, from 8 surgery rooms, it went to only 2 provisional ones, where some operations are done, even though they are mostly used to take care of emergencies.
The impact from the earthquake was so big that the hospital is only capable of going through 20% of the medical attentions it made in past August.
Regarding the rest of the cases, they’ve had to send the patients to other health centers, explained the medical manager, Randall Álvarez, who has led the entire organization so that the services don’t get paralyzed.
Another piece of information is that from September to January, 4342 references to other health centers have been made, which means an increase of 195% comparing it to the usual behavior previous to the earthquake.
Hospital México is the one that has received the most locals from Puntarenas: 1.202 in the last six months, the Hospital of San Ramón has received 536.
Taking the Puntarenas hospital to optimal conditions goes further than the effort from the staff, that’s why the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) has invested 1.000 million colones to condition the structure properly.
Between the few good things that the earthquake left behind is the announcement of a new hospital, even though this will be a reality in the long term.
Regarding the hospital tower, to utilize it again, some measurements are requires, between the ones, there’s reinforcing the support beams with carbon fiber, according to the preliminary reports.
Meanwhile this settles it, Monseñor Sanabria Hospital, the tallest building that the Caja has, has learned how to walk again in the shadow of one of the most devastating earthquakes in the country’s history.