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Anne-Michelle Wand of United Country Bocas del Toro – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

We have a hospital in Bocas Del Toro and we have local doctors who work at the hospital. However, we have very few doctors that have an office that you can go to. There are a couple of dentists and there might be one doctor who has an office but most of the time, if you have something wrong with you, you go to the hospital. If you have something serious, like if you need a heart operation, you have to go up to David or to Panama City. David is the closest city to Bocas and it is 3 and 1/2 hours by boat and by car, while Panama City is 1 hour by plane. The hospital here is not equipped for cases like that. The hospital in Bocas can deliver babies, treat illnesses, do stitches, take x-rays, and perform other minor procedures. They can also airlift or medevac patients out of Bocas towards the bigger and more equipped hospitals.

The hospital in Bocas del Toro is a public hospital, and anybody can go there. The lab procedures are cheap. A blood test is $26 and an X-ray is $22. The doctors and medical personnel do not speak English very well. You need to know some Spanish or you can take somebody with you to translate.

We have something in Bocas del Toro that we call "The Floating Doctors," which is a volunteer group that a doctor organized and he has volunteers coming from all over the world. They have nurses and even non-medical staff who help out. They mostly go out to the outer islands, treat the indigenous population, help them get clean water and treat the babies for diseases.

If you have a stroke or a heart attack, then that will be a different case entirely, because for these cases, the faster you get to somewhere, the best chance you have of having less damage to your heart or your brain. It definitely takes more time if you go to the hospital and they determine that you need to be taken via medevac up to David. It is probably going to take more time and that is why I say that you need to be relatively healthy to live here in Bocas del Toro. If you have an aneurysm or a blocked artery that could blow anytime, you probably do not want to live this far from a hospital. You would want to settle in Boquete or David, where you can get to a hospital quicker and get your medication. You can get your medication here in Bocas if you are stabilized.

Mack Jones – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Pan American Highway – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI live in a high rise in Coronado, Panama.  Prior to me living here, a Canadian couple lived here. They visited Bocas del Toro last year, and he had a diabetes swing while on one of the islands.  The local basic services could do little for him, and the following day he was placed on a helicopter to fly to Panama City.  He died on the way.
 
In Coronado there is a clinic that provides much better services, but not for serious problems. When I had a swimming accident here, the clinic did the stabilizing, but I wound up traveling to Hospital Nacional in Panama City.  In this area there is an expat group that collects all your necessary medical information and one very critical item - directions to your home, because there are no street addresses.  In an emergency, dialing their 24 hour number gets someone who speaks excellent Spanish and English, and they can use the detailed information you provide to take it from there.
 
The important thing to do here for medical services is to PLAN IN ADVANCE.  Don't wait until you really need something, or you might wind up trying to retrieve $500 from an ATM to pay the ambulance driver.  How my friend got her husband cremated and his ashes back to Canada, is quite an interesting tale also, but not needed to answer this question.
 
(Pan American Highway, pictured.)
JB Seligman of BUENA VISTA REALTY located in BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bocas del Toro canoe by palm tree – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere is a hospital here in Bocas Del Toro, which is set up just for basic care. If you ended up having a heart attack or something as serious as that, you would want to go to either David or Panama City, where there is some very good doctors. The hospital here is where you would go to if you had some type of trauma. They have some very dedicated people who work in the local hospital here in Bocas Del Toro, but as far as any major medical procedures, they are not set up to do that, and they would suggest that you would go to David or Panama City.
 
Most of the expats’ doctors are either in David or in Panama City. To get to David, you would take a water taxi from Bocas Del Toro, then you would take a bus from Bocas, which is a four-hour drive over the mountains to David. If you go to David for a doctor’s appointment, you are not going to want to come back to Bocas Del Toro the same day. David is a nice place for shopping and recreation anyway, so you would want to spend a day and a night in David. It is too much to make it there and back to Bocas Del Toro in one day.
 
David has a couple of world-class hospitals. If you have something that is extremely serious, then you can fly to Panama City, which is an hour away by air from either David or Bocas del Toro.  It is a lot less hassle to go to Panama City than to David since flying is a lot better than taking the bus for four hours.
 
We have beaches and jungles here in Bocas Del Toro and people like to experience both, so anything can happen. You could break your arm or your leg or you can get a jellyfish sting. In an emergency though, the doctors here in Bocas del Toro would probably put you on a plane to Panama City.
Wee-Yiong Fung of Prestige Panama Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
In Bocas del Toro, Panama, the main healthcare facility is not on the island, but on the mainland, where they have a small clinic (I would not call it a “hospital”).  This clinic is a government-run, public clinic that is primarily for Panamanians who paid into the Social Security System.
 
As a foreigner who did not pay into the Panamanian Social Security system, you can still go to this clinic, and it is very inexpensive, but the access to medicine and diagnostic tools is limited, and the doctors can be inexperienced and in-training.  Therefore, the care is not great and is not up to the standards you would receive in other parts of the country.
ellie wharton of Whale Watching Panama/Emberá Village Tours – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Medical centers, hospitals and clinics in the Bocas Del Toro area are, in a word, scarce.  Services are limited with few English-speaking doctors and even fewer English-speaking nurses.  The only hospital on Isla Colon is a national hospital.  It can be a good place to go for minor injuries or situations.  I, personally, would not want to have a heart attack or other major health issue in this area.  There is a larger health facility in a city called Changuinola, which is, at best, one hour and forty-five minutes away.  But this is also a national healthcare facility.  The closest private hospital is located in the city of David, which is a four hour drive through the mountains.   Or you could be airlifted off the island for a hefty price.  In a crucial situation, where minutes count, the hospitals in Bocas del Toro province offer bleak alternatives.

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