California to Puerto Rico

Doctor “Appointments” in Puerto Rico

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Stefan and I recently went to our doctor in Mayaguez for a routine pregnancy check up and to find out the sex of our baby. Like good patients, we showed up 10 minutes early and checked in for our 11am appointment. We then proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait some more until the doctor finally got around to seeing us nearly 3 HOURS later. By that time, the excitement of finding out the sex of our baby was long gone and we were both just annoyed and sick of waiting. After waiting for so long, the doctor tried to hurry us through the appointment (I got weighed, blood pressure taken and the doctor listened to the babies heartbeat) and she wasn’t even going to do an ultrasound so that we could find out the sex. I insisted being as that is the only reason we were really there (we found out we are having a girl).

Any how, back to my point: doctors appointments in Puerto Rico. Apparently, you’re “appointment” is not an actual appointment at all. The doctor schedules a block of patients for 11am and those patients are supposed to be seen somewhere between 11am and 12pm. The doctor even told us not to bother to show up at the time of our appointment and typically you should show up 30 minutes late and if there are a bunch of people in the waiting room, that you can just leave and reschedule for another time. How stupid is that?! I’ve had much better service at free clinics in on the mainland. SO annoying. I have a feeling that giving birth in Puerto Rico is going to be a nightmare…

Para su conveniencia les estare attendiendo en su cita por hora. Este sistema le facilitara el tiempo de espera y su comodidad en la sala. Usted debera acudir a su hora asignada, ni antes ne despues para que todas las pacientes se beneficien de este sistema. Agradecere su respaldo y cooperacion al respecto. De haber una comlication duranted el dia, como un parto o una emergencia, mis secretarias se lo comunicaran a usted.
Rough Translation of the reception sign:

For your convenience we will be running appointments by the hour. This system will provide the waiting time and comfort in the room. You should come on your assigned hours, not before or after so that all patients can benefit from this system. We appreciate your support and cooperation. If a complication occurs during the day such as a delivery or an emergency, my secretaries will inform you.


37 thoughts on “Doctor “Appointments” in Puerto Rico

  1. Nelson

    Hi Summer,

    “Welcome to Puerto Rico. Where we strive to be just (just) above the average third world country!”

    I’ve waited for an appointment from 7 Am to 9 PM! And this for my baby, who almost died on us because she was having problems breathing. The baby was breathing, what appeard to be fine, when we got there so they decided it wasn’t that big of deal to take care of her as soon as possible. And this was the emergency pediatrics here in Arecibo. Consider yourself lucky you only waited three-hours.

    The same day, another mother got tired of waiting and took her daughter and just left because she was so disgusted, they called the cops on her and they forced her to come back because her child needed the therapy. Yeah, it was important for her to stay and wait forever but not to take care of her daughter as soon as possible. Only in a third world country like Puerto Rico can this happen in.

  2. Dennis

    β€œWelcome to Puerto Rico. Where we strive to be just (just) above the average third world country!”

    LOL this sums it up just right. I’m of puerto rican descent, was born and raised in long island NY I was raised with much of the culture aspect food, traditional music, traditions, spoke spanish ect. I thought it was gonna be fine making the move and trying to settle down here why wouldnt it be ? i lived here for a time as a kid and even went to school. i visited on some ocasions. well my wife (also of puerto rican descent) and i had been thinking of it, we had come to the conclusion that it would suite our life style plans and goals to live less stressfuly and slow, home school, start some small business and im still sure those are all possible, but i have to say i have been having culture shocks since i landed here. from rediculous wait times for something that should take 2 minutes to the crazy bumper car driving style, to the out of my way im strolling through ive experienced in stores. i have to say its shamefull.
    you have to be on top of folks here or they wont move to get things done. i hired a guy to break ground and first day was great then he got slick the next day came late worked less productive and left early claiming he was low a fuel, ive called diffrent people to came and give estimates on work and they have never showed up when they said the would ive had to call them to see whats up and its like nothing to them “oh ok yea i forgot” and its no coincindence it seems like thats they way buisness is done here. very frustrating, ineficient and scary as in your case. i have 4 children from 8 to 2 and i dont ven wanna imaging having an emergency. oh and my wife misses her public library lol theres nothing like the mainland.

    Where we strive to be just (just) above the average third world country! LOL funny but sad

  3. Rob

    That’s about par for the course in PR…. for ANYTHING.

    3 days to replace my drivers license that was peeling apart, 9am doctor appt didn’t start till 1030, 11am GRE study class didnt start until 1230.

    At least the weathers nice πŸ™‚

    Also, if your kid is born in PR, el Registro Demografico (Demographic Registry, aka Vital Records) is actually quite efficient. I accompanied a friend to get a copy of his birth certificate. We were in and out in under 10 minutes.

  4. Lorraine Altieri

    Summer, so sorry for your stressful experience at the doctor’s office. My 90 year old grandmother who lives in Rincon has the same problem. She is often waiting in the doctor’s office for over 7 hours So imagine….. My dad who takes care of her comes to New York to see his doctors or goes to the Veterans hospital in Mayaguez. I love Rincon and would love to retire there in the future but medical care is the main reason that retiring to Puerto Rico it’s not an option anymore. Wishing you and your baby all the best- LA

  5. Sandra

    I waited to move to PR until my husband and I were able to retire b/c “of the little things” that we took for granted in the mainland…. libraries, produce, public education, getting your driver’s license online, and actual “time” doctor appointments…. b/c now we have time, even when we don’t like it, to wait and wait and wait some more… complaining doesn’t do anything… I wish someone could really start a compilation of responsible and reliable conractors…

    the guy we hired for our kitchen remodel, came in at the right time, worked for a few days and then as time went by, I had to chase him down to finish the work and I even owed him money…. now I need the bathroom cabinets refaced and can’t even get him to answer the phone b/c he is too busy… (doing who knows what!)…but I love Puerto Rico, the weather, the beaches, the people, the culture… and with the possibilities of going back and forth to the mainland for the little things… I’m staying right here…..

  6. katrinakruse

    Doctors – I have had bad and wonderful experiences (mainly good). After several YEARS in the states of having an unsolved problem I came here and now know I have Hashimotos Thyroidosis (dying thyroid gland). Who found it? A neurologist AND my regular doctor who has REAL appointments. I was sent by both doctors to an endocrinologist (same one) who was an ASS and I waited for hours. Now I have one who I call in the morning and she tells me when to come in and I wait not even 30 minutes – I have had 7 visits and it has been great! Besides that, she is very caring, knows what she is doing and did all the right things that the ASS said weren’t necessary – like finding out if the node was cancerous). It isn’t. You just have to find the right doctors (just like in the states). Same with lab tests – I had to have cells sucked out a a nodule in my thyroid and got there at 8:30 am and was taken in after 2. Unfortunately they were the only hospital that does that kind of biopsy. Stay away from the Medical Emporium in Mayaguez unless you want to wait forever. West Pen at the Mayaguez Mall does sonograms, xrays, virtual colonoscopies etc and you really don’t wait. They were wonderful when we had COBRA insurance from the states and not SSS like we do now. No confusion, they just took care of it. I like being the keeper of all the test results. I like that the doctors just tell you outright what the problem is and what will happen next. I really like that they will take a lot of time with you if you need it and not just shove you in the holding zone for 30 minutes so they can take 6 minutes with you and tell you you look fine (like in the states). So – need a test? I can tell you where to go and where NOT to go. But wait forever? Maybe for the first visit, but after that it should go smoothly, and if it doesn’t go somewhere else. katrina

  7. Minerva

    Aah, yes, been there, done that. Then, after a very bad experience with a rude and obstinate medical receptionist I followed Katrina’s advice and went to her doctor. He is a find, but he is in San German. As for staying just above an average third world country, I am not so sure about that. I have been treated in Singapore (world class care and very inexpensive), Mexico (no wait, competent, inexpensive) and Costa Rica (no wait, competent, inexpensive). I have also been traeted in Russia (their facilities and equipment are really scary!)
    PR seems to be EXCEPTIONALLY BADLY ORGANIZED, but the quality of care I can’t complain about

  8. Carol

    Well Summer, I am puertorrican and I understand what you feel. I would recommend you to get another doctor maybe in San Juan, but I know is not easy for you to do that and I don’t think your girl is going to wait to get to San Juan to come out, jeje… Anyway, you will have to get used to the way doctors work here, maybe you shouldn’t be so sharp!! πŸ™‚

  9. Heather Moreau

    Hey!!! What is the deal here?!? You are prego?!?!?! OMG. Sorry, a little shock setting in here. Not in a bad way…. really … CoNGRATS! I am very happy for you but still consider you as someone close (although it has been years:) so I feel a little shocked. Where do the years go…seriousy…. so happy for you both!

    …. I think I need to call you soon too….

  10. Summer

    Heather – Oh yeah, the whole getting knocked up thing…yep! We’re growing a baby! I’m still in shock too, so I feel ya ;)…haha

  11. Cic

    hello summer,
    i have a question that i hope you could help me out with~
    my husband and i will be in san juan for the last part of my pregnancy and will be giving birth there. can you give me any advice or reccommendations as to what womens clinics or doctors in san juan i should contact (or how it works in puerto rico, meaning do i see my doctor at a clinic then birth in the hospital like in the states)
    Also, which hospital is the best in san juan. we have been looking at el presby-ashford presbyterian and pavia health.
    any advice that you have would be such a huge help, even if it’s not directly related to san juan. thank you!!
    hope your pregnancy is going well too πŸ™‚
    you can email me: [email protected]

  12. Pat

    I really feel for you. I cannot imagine having to give birth in p.r. Been her for almost 11 years. Our doc in Rincon does give appts. if that is what you call it & you must be there 1/2 hour before & they will not take you if you’re late – but you will be waiting for HOURS to see him or any one of them. I have had the first appt. & still waited hours because he showed up at 11 a.m. & of course, didn’t get right to work. But even worse, doctors in rincon have told me “…this is my country, why don’t you speak spanish – I will not speak english to you – you have been here long enough” this is when I was here a year or 2. Or from another doc?or the “vet” as he is known “…when I go to the states they don’t speak spanish for me – why should I speak eng. for you….” I usually reply “how very professional of you, the NYC hosp I worked in provided translation of every language for our patients, we would never treat patients this way. you must be so proud of yourself” last time I saw any doctor who did this. Forget about the gyn – he acts as though he knows nothing in english, completely ignores whatever you are asking him. My advise – make sure someone stays in the hospital w/you because the nurses (I use the term loosely) don’t know whats up. it seems there is 1 rn & 2-3 lpn’s. & gyn are big on pushing you to do a c-section. Lastly – bring a pillow to appts. I have fallen asleep in the waiting room for a gyn – if you are not friends w/the nurse your chart can easily slip to the bottom. I agree, the preg. women should go first, but God forbid they schedule the non preg. women to come in after 10 or 11 – NOOOO everyone is scheduled for 8 a.m. & if you come later you will not be seen. people are outside the IPA in rincon at 5 a.m. Ridiculous. my solution was to change to a private ins. I couldn’t take it anymore. oh congrats Heather.

  13. Rob


    the top 3 hospitals in the SJ are are the Ashford Medical Center/Presbyterian Hospital, Auxilio Mutuo (right next to UPR), and Pavia Hospital

  14. steven

    Babies are born in PR. everyday!. Certainly a culture thing americans don’t understand. More embarrasing is your spelling!

  15. Stefan

    Babies are born around the world everyday. Go ahead and hate on Americans by saying we don’t understand your culture, we are getting used to that. But saying someone’s spelling is more embarrassing than not delivering what was promised (ie. timed appointments etc) isn’t cultural, it’s just plain old silly. Regardless of my disagreement with you, I appreciate your contribution and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  16. Leslie

    It makes me laugh how ignorant people can be. Puerto Rico has never been a third world country and it will never be a third world country. I am a nurse and waited in one of the 50 best hospitals (Yale) in the USA for hours in the emergency room so that I can be seen. It is called triaging. This method was developed so that the person with the most emergent care could be seen first. Unfortunately people miss use the ER to treat medical problems that could have been taken care of at a Dr.’s office. Now you have to wait, because your ear ache, urinary tract infection and bad cold is not in the highest priority level for emergent care. Unfortunately, there are some towns in Puerto Rico that lack the resources that other towns may have for better health care system. I currently live in Connecticut which by fortune is a rich state with many abused resources. However, there are many states in the blessed USA that have horrendous and insufficient healthcare system. So, need not to say that before speaking you must take all of the pros and cons of Puerto Rico who ranks as one of the best proactive medical system in the world. I can speak by experience that New York and Puerto Rico are in the same boat when it comes to medicalcare. I studied nursing and worked in New York. I have come across alot of dirty and insufficient hospitals in New York. Never mind the crazy Dr.’s that are students from countries that I can’t even pronounce. Dr.’s that can not even speak english correct and if it was not for us nurses running the show they would have killed many patients. So the grass is not greener on the other side. It all depends where you live. Location, Location and Location.

  17. Marriage Doctor Recommendation

    Hello, I would like to know if anyone is able to recommend a doctor to sign our marriage license. I plan on getting married in PR and one of the requirements is for the doctor to sign the wedding license. Also does anyone know where I can find the wedding application in advance? Is the process dept of health, doctor, wedding or doctor, dept of health, wedding?

    • Summer

      Marriage Doctor Recommendation – I heard it was SUCH a hassle to get married in Puerto Rico. Stefan and I have not gotten married, so I’m not sure, but I do know that Annie and Justin of Rincon Vacations did get married here in Puerto Rico. You can contact them through their blog here: I hope that helps and good luck!


    Bravo Leslie you have hit a home run against these haters Puerto Rico residents that bash the medical system in PR.Lets look at the facts,dont think the system in Pr is the best but check it out the one in Canada you got so called free or socialize medicin eyou pay double on taxes than in PR but if you need to see a cardiologist go and wait 14 month because of waiting list same like England go and ask Nick and Miri they are british at least i PR you gt a choice the one in USA i think is the best if you could afford it. Anyway Leslie thanks for all the information you share with me and other readers


    Pat i read your comment about doctors dont want communicate to you in english and to me i dont buy it. We in PR are very polite on the other hand i belive your story if it were in Nasville they wont get no translator for you .Some friends told me that Nashville have change some.It is a shame on your part that you have been over a decade in Rincon and cant comunicate in the native language of spanich .Look at these Gringas women that i have met 2 weeks ago Betsy Wadworth from Calypso,Julie Sanders from Pintos r Us and Kalealani Ramos from Shrimpeck within short time they learned native language in order to expand their their skills and in Julie s case bussisness.You want to be a Local or an Outsider is your choice

  20. Arnaldo

    I have just spent two days taking my mother to Drs. appointments i San Juan and I have to say I was amazed. I found the appointment “system” an insult to patients. While I understand Drs. time is valuable, their patients time is too. But, more importantly, my mother is in her late 70’s and it is very stressful for someone that old to wait 5/6 hours to see a Dr. I saw at one Dr’s. office an even older lady on a wheelchair experiencing what seemed like extremely painful spasms for hours while she waited for the Dr. I just don’t understand the rationale for this “system” – i don’t feel it has any justification.


    im not an expert in healt insurance and in the medical field i will say im pretty good in searching my points.Lets see in Rincon demographics 1 out of 4 is GRINGO from that porcentage 3 out of 4 are partime residents ostly from New York AND New Jersey my point is Gringos complain of medical system in PR because they want it.As part time residents rgey dont spend no more than few months. If they really need to see a doctor they can take a cheap plane from Jet Blue and be in NYC in 4 hrs but in my opinion i think system in PR might be better than in some counties in New York

    • Stefan

      Reinaldo: Demographics of Rincon 1 out of 4 Gringo? You are wrong and didn’t do very good research. How is the medical care in the United States where you live?


    Stefan i got demographics in Rincon by talking to longtime locals mostly over 60 years.Medical care here in Orlando is same medical care i had in Nashville in the past. Im bleesed that im still working and have health insurance BLUE SHIELD BLUE CROSS. SAME same i had in Nashville. To me medical care in USA is the best care in the world if you can afforfd it actually threre are 30 millions unirsure people in USA but i believe at this time is best solution than medical care in Canada or England(just ask Mick and Miri )they are british, long waiting listfor everything

  23. Stefan

    @Reinaldo: I am not sure what the official demographics of Rincon are. I have noticed a big push on TV and Advertisements for the US Census Bureau and everyone filling out the forms so they can get a grip on what the population demographics are all about. If everyone fills that out and sends it back, we can get a more accurate of the American population in Rincon.

  24. pam

    Wow… I just got started reading your blog. I was actually feeling optimistic about this one as many of the blogs by mainlanders in PR are negative and condescending. This one was different. But, it is unbelievable how 1 negative experience can turn the prejudice switch one just like that. (not yours, your readers… eg. Nelson)
    Just shows you how careful you have to be with what you say…


    If President Barac Obama impose simple payer on medical care Continental USA will become the next PR in less than a decade


    You are right Pam.Nelson should try health care in Spain ,France,Italy and maybe Sweeden.These are not 3rd world countries,but look at the facts if he gonna see the doctor in few days.I doubt it ,long waiting listfor every thing higher taxes.He should try moving those places if things got better for him

  27. Trisha

    I know what you mean about the doctors offices here. At least my doctor is efficient. I am told to come in by 2 and know I will be waiting until 4 before being seen. I was already warned about this and at the moment have nothing else to do, so I am prepared. One thing I can’t stand about my doctor: I am learning Spanish but prefer the doctor to speak to me in English so that I fully understand everything when it comes to the health of my baby/pregnancy but he prefers Spanish and will only speak in English if I ask him a question or am there without my fiance’s mom to translate. They speak together in Spanish the entire time and I leave feeling like I don’t know what is going on. I have to keep asking over and over in order for anyone to tell me and I have had several slight complications (all is good now!). Its extremely infuriating. Plus, because I came from the states and had seen the doctor 5 times instead of 6 at 6 months, no one wanted to take me on as a patient. They kept telling me to go to San Juan, which is like a 3 hour drive from here! When I did find the doctor, I had to pay almost $300.00 out of pocket because I was considered to have a “high risk pregnancy”. I HATE the health care system here! Plus side to the waiting – the office plays movies on a big screen plasma with surround sound. In the last month I have seen 3 brand new movies I wanted to see without ever having to rent them.

  28. Rosana

    I understand your frustration, my family goes thru the same hassle for almost all doctors appointments.
    It is funny how the doctors note (on the pic you posted) says that she will be taking the appointments by hour so it will be more convenient for the patients, hu?
    I have had my two babies here in the mainland and can tell you that it is definitely better when they take care of your 8am appointment at 8am or close to 8am, not 11am. I mean, what are you suppose to do if you work? Take the whole morning or day off for a simple appointment?
    However, the rushing thru the appointment is, I guess, a OBGYN thing. I remember having to write my questions down because if I stopped to think about one right there in front of the doctor, it was game over πŸ™‚

  29. Nancy Gonzalez

    I too am annoyed by these “appointments”. It’s horrendous when you have just one car…my husband has to take the day off work just to keep our son because who knows how long I’ll be there…sigh

    With that said, patients are as much to blame as doctors. You see, if you tell someone in Puerto Rico you have a 9AM appt…they WILL more thank likely show up at 915AM with many excuses as to why they couldn’t make it by 9AM…I have seen it time and time again. Even with these ridiculous “appointments”, when they tell you “you must be here before 1PM and we’ll see you whenever”…people WILL show up at 115PM, 130PM, etc…and come up with all kinds of excuses…the only solution will be for doctors to get tough and not ever take a late patient at all…maybe eventually the culture will change.

  30. Virginia

    Karen what was the name and number of the Dr. in San German? My son is sick and my Spanish is not very good lol I am really trying but feel so lost…

  31. Eli

    This post is old but anyways…

    [Leslie] “Puerto Rico has never been a third world country and it will never be a third world country”

    Here you have another good example of the obtuse part of puertorrican pride.

    Leslie Puerto Rico was not a 3rd world country back in 2009 and it isn’t a 3rd world country at the present moment in 2013, because Puerto Rico has never been a country. As for now it is a non-incorporated territory of the US of A. Is just that for a lot of things it behave like a 3rd world country.

    But I agree with you, we can not generalize and say that all health care service is bad… just most of it.

  32. Reinaldo

    have a question for Gringo readers.haveyou guys ever heard who this person who’s name is Antonia Coello de Novello . I guess not She was the General Sergon of the United States from1990 til 1993under President George H Bush.She was ahead of her time,she was like th Sonia Sotomayo from the 90”from Fajardo PR S we are not as bad as some people complain

  33. ann

    Well, I’m 1/2 Puerto Rican, I’ve been back and forth since I was born. I am now 41 years old and I have been living here for 5 years now. I hate it. I just found out I was pregnant, I have the PR reforma, all I want is for a doctor to check me out and do an ultrasound. Well, no doctor wants to take me. None. I have no clue of what to d next. Icould get on a damn plane back to gGeorgia get to a health department and have everything checked out. What hurts the most. Is that I know this stress. Is doingmy baby harm.

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