There is a local, state-of-the-art clinic here in Coronado, Panama called San Fernando Clinic. San Fernando Clinic is an offshoot of San Fernando Hospital in Panama City. They’re not open 24 hours, but they do have extended hours, early in the morning into the evening, and they do have an emergency room. I have found that every time we’ve used that clinic, all the doctors have spoken perfect English and they’ve always been very helpful. In my experience with San Fernando Clinic, even the receptionists speak English.
(On a personal note, yes, I’m eager to learn Spanish, but when it comes to medical and emergency issues, I want to speak English, because I know I can get my point across.)
There’s a particular doctor who I’ve never seen but who all the expats swear by called Dr. Levy. I haven’t been to him, but my husband has and he said Dr. Levy was really good. From our (thankfully, limited) personal experience and from what I’ve heard from others, the physicians in the San Fernando Clinic are up to American standards.
On a rotating basis San Fernando Clinic here in Coronado will hold office hours for specialists from their main hospital in Panama City. For example, an orthopedic surgeon may come in once a week to and have an office day at the Coronado San Fernando Clinic, or an ophthalmologist or cardiologist may come in from the city and have office hours once a week here in Coronado. As a result, you’re not just limited to the more general physicians normally at the San Fernando Clinic in Coronado; you have periodic access to the specialists from Panama City. You can get a regular checkup from a cardiologist, an ophthalmologist, etc., just on certain days.
We’ve been to the San Fernando Clinic in Coronado more often than I’d want to. My husband Roberto went there after our car accident last year. We got great service then. We’ve been there with our kids when they’ve been sick. We’ve been able to get blood tests and lab tests needed for other work done in Panama City. I have only good things to say about San Fernando Clinic.
San Fernando Clinic is not a “hospital” in that they don’t have beds for overnight stays, etc. If you need more extensive care than they can provide, they will stabilize you and take you to the city, in an ambulance, if necessary. Panama City is about an hour away by car. This happened to my neighbor, who was in an accident that was more serious than the one my husband was in. After the accident, they realized they needed to watch her overnight, which they can’t do in the clinic here in Coronado, so they put her in an ambulance and transported her an hour away to Panama City.
There is a hospital in the Coronado, Panama area, in San Carlos. The San Carlos Hospital is seven minutes by car from the center of Coronado. It’s a public hospital that’s open 24 hours a day, with emergency room care. I’m a little reluctant to offer an opinion of San Carlos Hospital because I don’t know that much about it. I have heard mixed things about it from the expat community. They have Panamanian doctors each one of which may or may not speak English.
The only personal experience we have with Hospital San Carlos was when my husband went to them directly after having his car accident. He didn’t have to pay a penny, because it’s a public hospital, but they told him his knee was fine because he had no broken bones. Meanwhile, he had a torn meniscus and couldn’t walk. He immediately got in a cab and went to San Fernando Clinic, where they diagnosed him properly. Alternatively, I’ve heard from other people who went to San Carlos Hospital who said that they got great care. I would guess that, because it’s a public hospital, its more “hit or miss” as to the care you get, but I don’t know. Anybody in Panama on a retirement visa will have a cedula, which would entitle you to free care at San Carlos Hospital.
If you have an extremely serious health condition, Panama City is an hour away, with absolutely first-rate care. (They have a hospital in Panama City affiliated with Johns Hopkins, where I had very successful complicated back surgery.)