Sick On Caye Caulker

Even when you live (or visit) paradise you can end up catching a sickness or stub a toe.  Traveling on a plane puts a person in a closed environment with perhaps more possible illness than a doctor waiting room.  

My wife (Sherry) and I went to the states in April (for a week) and came back with a nasty bug.  I managed to kick mine but for some reason, she just couldn't seem to get past the upper respiratory infection.  This gave us a great opportunity to experience the medical system here on Caye Caulker, and I thought you might also find it interesting.

After coughing and hacking for a few days, my wife went to the local doctor here on the island (Dr. Sansorez).  Dr. Sansorez has been on the island for years.  He is a doctor who went to medical school in Cuba and had set up his practice on our small island.  

The visit to the doctor took about an hour with no wait.  Dr. Sansorez will spend as much time with you as you like.  The doctors English skill is amazing.  It would not be fair to say he has no accent, but it is so minor that anyone could easily communicate with him.

During the visit, the doctor did a full physical, determined that my wife was suffering from bronchitis and recommended the following treatment (all of which we did).

  1. Go to Belize City (we did so the next day) and get a chest x-ray to confirm the bronchitis diagnosis.  
  2. He gave my wife two injections.  One was an antibiotic and the other steroid.  The shots were both options; he was willing to write a prescription for the medication to be taken orally but the injection is a much faster solution.
  3. He also gave my wife three different prescriptions.   These were additional antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and a cough expectorant.  

After the appointment, Sherry went to the pharmacy on the island to fill her prescriptions while I called the hospital and made her appointment for the next morning.  Both of us were successful in just a few minutes.  

The next morning my wife and I got on the water taxi to Belize City.  We were met there by our preferred taxi driver (Charles) and off we went to the private hospital to get the chest x-ray.

Our appointment was scheduled for 10:30 am and we arrived at the hospital at 10:15 am.  When we checked in the nice person behind the counter asked Sherry a couple of questions and then charged us for the x-rays.  

Now, let me pause here for a moment and respond to the question you have running around in your mind at this point.  

"How much is all this stuff costing?"

Well, fear not, at the end of this story I will be sharing with you the cost of every item in our adventure and the total.

Back to our story!

At 10:30 am, on the nose, we were taken back for the three x-rays.  I was allowed to go with my wife and stand behind the screen with the technician.  The entire procedure took 15 minutes and after we were directed to wait back in the reception area while the technician developed the film and the hospital doctor reviewed them.

After a ten minute wait out came our package carried by the friendly technician that took the pictures.  Inside were the three x-rays and the diagnosis by the hospital doctor.  We have a winner, bronchitis.  

While in Belize City, we decided to do a little shopping (the injections were making Sherry feel much better) and eat lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  After our stops, Charles took us back to the water taxi to ride back to our island.

We got back on the island too late to get the film to Dr. Sansorez (it was a Saturday), so we were pausing on our medical adventure for a couple of days.

Monday morning Sherry went to the doctors office to drop off the pictures.  

He reviewed them and was happy to see he was correct.  Sherry was there about 30 minutes while he reminded her how to take the medication he had prescribed.

As I write this, my wife is doing much better.  The coughing has subsided, and her energy is returning.  So, let's go over the cost.

All of the following charges came out of our pockets because we do not have medical insurance down here.  Also, we went to the private hospital in Belize City, so that increased the cost substantially, and remember that all the following are in US dollars (we did the conversion for you).

  • Initial doctor appointment (including the injections): $75
  • Filling all four prescriptions here on the island: $22
  • Water Taxi round trip to Belize City: $12 per person
  • Taxi (Charles) driving us around Belize City half a day: $30
  • X-rays: $25
  • Follow up appointment with doctor: Free
  • Total out of pocket for this adventure (without any insurance): $176

I think this is a really good example of how the medical system works here in Belize and perhaps a contrast, showing how screwed up the medical system in the USA is.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below.