Checking in at Santa Fe de Bogota


After a year and a half – it was time to stop in at Santa Fe de Bogotá and see what was new.

Dr. Roosevelt Farjardo, MD (general surgeon) has been instrumental in implementing some of these new and exciting changes such as the ‘Virtual Hospital’ that I will be writing about (soon).  He was very nice about taking time to update me on some of his new programs at part of the Center for innovation in education and health.  Telemedicine is just the tip of the iceberg as far as some of the cool things they are doing.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the International Patient Center  – or rather – I can’t report anything other than the fact that Ana Maria Gonzalez (the previous director) has left for a position in the United States and that Dr. Carolina Munoz has taken her place.

I was hoping to get some statistics and report back about some of the specialty programs for overseas travelers – but Alas!  I am unable to bring this information to you.  I waited over 70 minutes after my scheduled appointment with Dr. Munoz – and despite several calls from her staff, she never showed up and never attempted to reschedule.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident – but I am afraid this is more like a clash of “cultures”.  I say this because I met with Dr. Munoz  previously; during the writing of the book (when she was the Director of the International Patient Center at rival Fundacion Cardioinfantil.)

At that time, (if I remember correctly, she introduced herself as a cardiac surgeon who had retired to “spend more time with her children.”)

Of course, my obvious question – was “oh, and how many children do you have?**”

I thought we were making polite conversation – because at the time, I was less familiar with Colombian customs, culture etc.   In reality, she was reminding me of her elevated stature in comparison to mine (as ‘just a nurse’).  Dense as I was – it became obvious as the interview progressed – as she made sure that I knew that she had replaced her rival (Ms. Ana Maria Gonzalez – RN) who had also worked at Fundacion Cardioinfantil in the past.  I’m sure she resented having to answer questions about the Executive Health Program and other aspects of their medical tourism program from someone she found to be inferior to herself.  (She made that pretty clear at that initial interview back in 2011).

So I guess it is no surprise that she didn’t bother to show up to our appointment this week – which is a shame, as I had looked forward to finding out more about the evolving International Patient Center at Santa Fe de Bogotá.

Luckily for me – there was another nurse there, Sandra Salazar – who could give me some basics.   She was delightful, helpful and dreadfully embarrassed about the whole thing.  She was even able to give me a list of some of the American insurance companies they have worked with in the past.  I had lots of questions about the HIPEC program, which she couldn’t answer – but she outlined the entire medical tourist process – and answered a lot of other questions.  She showed me how they streamline the process for their international patients, and the process for medical and surgical evaluations.

Now, there’s some good news for readers:  You aren’t nurses.  You are paying customers – so I am sure that Dr. Carolina Munoz will put aside any of her personal feelings (whatever they are) towards foreigners and will make time for you.

**The answer as none – as she is not married, and was not planning to be married in the foreseeable future.

Now when I am talking about culture – I am not strictly talking Colombia – America.  I am talking about Doctor – Nurse relations.  Watch some old Turner Classic Movies sometime and you will see what I mean..

Now I debated writing about this, but after talking with some other non-Colombians here in Bogotá, I felt it was important to pass it along because it illustrates quite a few things about my work:

1.  It’s not as easy as it looks (I spend a huge amount of time waiting..)

2.  Cultural differences can cause a lot of problems – so be prepared to be tolerant.

3.  If there is a chance that patients may get poor service – I want to know about it!  (And part of readers need to know about – is my experiences.)

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