Dr Riega: One of the Best Doctors in the Greater Coronado Area
Dr Riega has had his medical practice in Panama for more than 30 years. His clinic in Bejuco is about 6-7 miles from “downtown Coronado. He has been my personal “general practitioner” for more than 4 years.
Dr Riega brings a wealth of experience to his practice in addition to patience and understanding. Incidentally, he was also an elected “member of parliament” (if you are Canadian) or Congress (for Americans) or “Tribunal” for Panamanians.
For new “gringos”, in particular, it is very important to remember that in Panama “tropical diseases” and related ailments are often very different than similar medical problems in Canada or the USA. At the first sign of a sore throat see a local doctor.
His Waiting Room was always Packed
To be honest, what first attracted me to Dr Riega’s Clinic was the sheer number of Panamanians packed into his relatively small waiting room and sitting on some outside benches. I figured that these people must know something that I don’t because there are quite a few competitive medical clinics around. I suppose, in similar manner, I am attracted to restaurants that are always full with long lineups outside.
Meticulous Record Keeping
Once I got to know Dr Riega better as a patient (perhaps 2-3 visits per year until recently) I noticed that he always kept meticulous records on every patient. These were hand written records on blank sheets of paper stored in a 8.5″ x 14″ brown manila folder. They were extremely detailed and often included photocopies of, for example, blood test results etc. Many other doctors that I have visited did not appear to keep detailed records on my visits at least I never saw them.
$7 Consultation Fee
Another reason I very much like the Riega Clinic is because I can visit the clinic in the morning, pay my $7 consultation fee, and then come back say 3 or 4 hours later and my name is at the top of the list with no wait. In several other medical facilities waiting around can be a time consuming process.
Oh yes, did I mention the $7 consultation fee. This amount may seem ridiculously low to the average American who probably has to pay up to $150 for a similar medical consultation at a similar “walk-in” clinic. However, there are medical clinics in the Coronado area which actually charge less.
On Site Testing Facility
Dr Riega has an excellent onsite laboratory for testing virtually everything at prices that may bring a slow smile to your face. The cost of a full blood test, after my 20% discount, is about $6.50; urinalysis $2.50; a full “abdominal ultra scan” by a specialist with a comprehensive written report ($40). Many test results are ready in one hour.
Also if you happen to have several medical problems simultaneously Dr Riega will be happy to discuss them all. Try that with your average American doctor.
And finally, and most important he is very effective in his treatments without which the above reasons are useless.
The San Fernando Clinic
I should point out that my wife and I have an excellent medical insurance policy which covers us for doctor visits at the local San Fernando Clinic only 2 miles from our house. The standard cost for a visit is about $20 however after my jubilado discount of 20% and with my insurance “co-pay” of 30% my out of pocket cost is about $5. However about a month later I have to return to the clinic for my “refund check” and wait in line until my number is called.
The San Fernando Clinic in Coronado is a first class, 5 star internationally accredited medical facility. However, it has been designed for treating “gringos” and perhaps rich Panamanians. Not many locals have $20 for a consultation which is a day’s pay for many.
It was definitely not designed to process hundreds of patients per week as does the Riega Clinic. As a result of this volume, Dr Riega quickly learns the full extent and severity of the latest viruses (which is what usually attacks me and in fact most older people) at the earliest possible stage. Incidentally there are typically 4-5 different virus strains that sweep through the country every year depending on weather and other factors. Each year they are somewhat different.
I am running out of space since I am trying to shorten my postings. Actually there is much more information for a second post about Dr Riega in the near future.