Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Health Care in Cuenca

Today my hubby and I had our physicals by Dr. Pablo Parra at Hospital Monte Sinai. Although not as much fun as shopping, eating ice cream at Tutto Freddo, or riding the bus at rush hour, it was definitely an experience.

Dr. Parra is an internal medicine specialist with another discipline in pneumonology (lung specialist) and he also speaks perfect English, which is nice at this point in our Spanish studies. We brought all our medical records from the States (at a cost—of course!). Dr. Parra met with us and thoroughly reviewed our records, made notes and recommendations (that was a week ago). Today we had our physicals and he reviewed his findings with us.

Medicine in Ecuador is more “holistic”—by that I mean, doctors take into consideration your whole person (body, soul and spirit). The other big difference is price. An average visit is $20 to $25 and that was for over an hour—both times! We also had lab work done, which included a full work-up. Total cost: $79 per person. On Friday, Dr. Parra will review the results of our lab work and make further recommendations.

When is the last time a doctor spent an hour with you; gave you his personal cell phone number (to call at any time), or told you that he makes house calls? I worked in the medical field for 20 years and if I ever gave out the personal cell phone number of one of the doctors I worked for, I would be fired on the spot!
You may be in shock the first time you visit a doctor in Cuenca because you will look at your watch and wonder when your 10 minutes are up. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal, but you’ll get used to it (I promise).

Here’s another difference that will take some getting used to. In the States, you don’t own your medical records…the doctors do. You can request your records (copies of them), but the original belongs to the doctor. In Ecuador when you have a test done, you receive the results (they are yours to keep!).

All of this means that you are receiving personalized attention which will take some getting used to (at first). You are no longer a number on a chart…you are a person. And that’s the difference with health care in Cuenca!

Until next time…hasta luego!

Consuelo y Marco

Dr. Pablo Parra can be reached at Monte Sinai Hospital, Miguel Cordero 6-111 y Av. Solano, Cuenca, Ecuador. Phone: 07-2885-595 (Ext. 2511) Email:

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