Today Monday is the start of the fourth week of the national strike by the public sector workers that has left a trail of casualties in the health sector, patients losing medical appointments and surgeries. According to the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS) – the Costa Rican social security – as of Friday, that 90,585 appointments and 2,999 surgeries were canceled in all hospitals and clinics across the country.

File photo. Patients waiting to be attended at CCSS medical center

Throughout the three weeks of the strike, dozens of Equipos Básicos de Atención Integral en Salud (Ebais) – Basic Health Care Centers – local clinics – have closed their doors and stopped seeing patients.

But there is good news, as of Friday 73 were closed, down from 333 at the start of the strike.

On Monday, September 20, the day the strike began, hospitals across the country reported 26.2% of medical services affected, last Friday only 8.8%. Other services like laundry and janitorial services have been affected, forcing the CCSS to invest in private services to deal with the situation.

One of the affected, journalist Maricruz Leiva whose botched plastic surgery at a private clinic three weeks made headlines of her, described her experience of recuperation at the Hospital San Juan de Dios on the social networks.

“The day of the start of the strike my pain competed with the scandal,” she writes.

Maricruz Leiva. Photo from Facebook

Leiva explained how doctors had told her she would be in hospital for at least three months due to her severe necrosis, and emphasized that the last three weeks have been the “hardest, saddest and most desolate of my life”, explaining the difficulties and ‘incidents’ she endured for the lack of hospital staff, who were out on strike.

On one occasion, she explained, her pain had to compete with the scandal that was heard from the street. “On the day of the march my pain competed with the scandal and the charanga outside: marrones, tumbacocos, loudspeakers. For every scream or ‘bomb’ I was breathless, the pain reached me to the deepest part of my being,” she said.

“Every scream was needled into my back or my abdomen. For that moment, the only thing I asked of God was to shut them up. I was wondering if I, being an adult, had a hard time dealing with all this scandal, what would one of the children in the same ward be thinking about in the children’s hospital?” she added. The children’s hospital is located adjacent to the San Juan de Dios with patient rooms fronting on to Paseo Colon.

Ana Gabriel made her experience public, Tweeted her story this morning, Monday.

Ana explains the ordeal when accompanying her uncle to do the paperwork following his wife’s (her aunt) death.

“To be there and to see the realities of many generated in me more rejection of the strike because it reaffirmed that they (the strikers) affect those who with greater economic vulnerability. Who are they defending? Why?”.


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