QCOSTARICA – While Costa Rica’s over 65 population grows in numbers, the State limps to provide attention.
In 2000, this sector represented 5.5% of the total population. According to the 2011 Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC) – National Institute of Statistics and Census, it had grown to 7.2%.
The latest Encuesta Nacional de Hogares (National Household Survey) published in July 2014, noted that 636.800 people are over 60 years of age, representing 13.3% of the total population.
Estimates are that by 2050, the over 65 population will be 21.1%.
The reality, however, is that government investment to meet the needs of the age group is not keeping with the growing demand.
For example, the only medical centre in the country specializing in geriatrics is the Raul Blanco Cervantes in San Jose, a hospital that became obsolete four years ago.
“At the time of its foundation there was a small demand, but now it is a very large bestial (sic) demand and the hospital became small.”
The building, located at the rear of the Hospital Nacional de Niños (Children’s Hospital) and the San Juan de Dios, was not designed for longevity patients. On some floors, the bathrooms are 50 metres from the rooms.
The medical centre has 140 beds to serve 2,400 patients annually, and performing 732 surgeries in 2014, 562 more than 2011.
In the emergency room, in 2011 a total of 14,900 patients were attended. In 2014, the number had risen to 17,400.
“We have little space to serve a large population: daily, we attend to between 90 to 190 patients,” said Xinia Villalobos, head of Emergency.
Despite the undeniable need for a new geriatric hospital, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), has no such project in the works.