October 4th, 2012 – In 1980, Costa Rica had 7,000 hospital beds, which meant 3 beds for every 1,000 citizens.
Today, Costa Rica has doubled the population of 1980, and rather than having more hospital beds, there are actually 1,400 less than in 1980.
This means only one bed, among the various state hospitals, is available for every 1.000 citizens.
During this time of the year, in which many babies are born, hospitals are forced to place expectant mothers in the hallways.
Hospital authorities state that hospital bed shortages are common not only in Costa Rica, but in many countries around the world. According to them, the solution is to “reduce admissions” rather than to build larger hospitals with “high maintenance costs.”
The hospital that currently has the most beds is San Juan de Dios, with 640 beds. It is also the busiest.
Calderon Guardia Hospital is still short 200 beds since a fire in 2005. The Heredia Hospital has 240 beds, and Hospital Mexico has 600 beds. Hospital Mexico attends 1,200 people on a daily basis.
The longest hospital stays are due to heart problems, car accidents and burns. The average hospital stay is 5 days, and 75% of the cases in which a patient needs to be admitted are patients who enter through the emergency services, many of which are trauma patients.
One alternative being employed by authorities to reduce hospital admissions and keep beds free is the home health care / hospice service. Doctors attend patients who would otherwise be admitted to the hospital in their homes, instead.