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.