A Travel Story: Cardiac Concerns in Costa Rica and the Benefit of Medical Advisory Services

June 2, 2022

Categories: Health, Member Testimonials,

When you’re away from home, who do you call to ask medical questions? Global Rescue members know to call Global Rescue medical advisory services 24/7/365. Read Scott Kozak’s travel story of his heart attack in Costa Rica, and how our medical team helped save his life.

You own two charter fishing operations in Costa Rica and you are not sure if you are having blood sugar issues or a heart attack.

Should you call Global Rescue?

Yes. “Call us whenever you have a medical question during your travels. Ask immediately before the situation or the symptoms get worse,” said Garret Dejong, senior specialist in medical operations at Global Rescue.

24/7/365 Medical Advisory Service

It’s why Global Rescue’s medical advisory services are available to members 24/7/365. Sometimes you have a question about a symptom, like a bite or a rash.

“Our team of medical professionals include experienced paramedics, nurses and doctors. We handle calls for cuts and stomach upsets to more severe illnesses and injuries, like chest pains and serious trauma,” said Michael Lovely, operations supervisor at Global Rescue.

Or sometimes you need to find a clinic in your area. It could be a COVID testing facility needed before a flight or a health care provider who can evaluate an injury to determine if it is sprained or broken. Global Rescue will direct you to the best local medical resources around the world, so you are not left guessing about how to best address your health concern.

And sometimes that phone call can save your life, which is what Captain Scott Kozak learned when he started having symptoms — rapid heart rate, sweating, disorientation and weakness — while in Quepos, Costa Rica.

“Those of us who live, work, play and travel internationally may wonder what would happen if you were injured or had a medical emergency in a third-world country. Now I have first-hand experience,” said Kozak, owner and operator of Pacific Fly Sportfishing at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos.

Global Rescue Is the First Call

With his heart clocking 252 beats per minute, Kozak was taken to a local clinic in Quepos.

“We called Global Rescue immediately, and I was advised to go to Hospital CIMA in San Jose, Costa Rica,” Kozak said.

Hospital CIMA, built in 2000, is a full-service, acute-care hospital with a Cardiovascular Surgery Center of Excellence.

“Global Rescue has a list of criteria for vetting a hospital’s capabilities to be considered a Center of Excellence,” said Jeff Weinstein, medical operations supervisor at Global Rescue. “We have detailed conversations with leadership. We visit a hospital, with a translator if needed, to make sure the facility aligns with a U.S. Level 1 hospital — 24-hour ED, trauma and surgical services — and Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. We want to get you to the right hospital, not the closest.”

[Related Reading: Sail Away with Global Rescue on Board]

Despite Global Rescue’s advice, Kozak went to a smaller hospital in Quepos. The hospital determined Kozak did not have a heart attack or suffer any major damage, so when he was released several hours later, he rested for a day and, based on advice from his cardiologist in the United States, went to the airport.

“While waiting at the gate to board the plane, I experienced a severe attack requiring immediate attention from airport paramedics. I was evaluated and immediately transferred to Hospital CIMA,” Kozak said.

Scott Kozak 3

Glad to Have Global Rescue

Global Rescue’s medical advisory services came in handy once again.

“Global Rescue provided us with all information we needed in real time, including where to transport me for the best possible care in Costa Rica, setting up a hotel room for my wife across the street from the hospital, and checking on my condition two to three times per day,” Kozak said.

Kozak needed angioplasty surgery, then a second surgery to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator. “I was in the hospital for eight days (seven days in coronary ICU) for two surgeries, plus a couple more days of recovery. The level of care I received in Costa Rica was incredible. Now I feel 30 years younger. I will get a good month of rest and begin cardio rehab when I return to the states.”

One thing Kozak wishes he did differently? “I should have listened to Global Rescue from the beginning,” he said. “Although we called Global Rescue immediately after my first attack, I tried to make it to the states against Global Rescue’s advice.”

The experience did underline the importance of a Global Rescue membership and the 24/7/365 medical advisory services.

“I have consulted Global Rescue about a couple minor injuries, but I never thought I would use it in this capacity,” Kozak said. “I tell others if you have health issues or travel regularly, it’s a great idea to have a Global Rescue membership. It may save your life someday. It did for me.”

A Lifesaving Travel Protection Membership

It is difficult to manage your own health care while you are having an emergency. That’s why Global Rescue members appreciate our round-the-clock medical advisory services. Our medical experts will evaluate symptoms and recommend the best health care facility, then our medical evacuation services will get you there. We’ll also work in conjunction with your family, the local health care providers and your primary care doctors at home so everyone is on the same page.

24/7 Medical Advisory Services

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