As a result of a recent agreement between Philadelphia and Panama, health professionals at eight local hospitals will be able to train with doctors from Latin America and the Caribbean, and patients there will be able to receive U.S. medical care.
The agreement between the Panama Clinic and Philadelphia International Medicine includes the creation of a direct flight between Philadelphia and Panama City, and the opportunity for U.S. doctors, residents, and students to be mentored by affiliate physicians from Jamaica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, and for Latino physicians to observe and compare the health-care services provided in Philadelphia.
The educational and clinical care exchange, particularly in areas of neurology, ophthalmology, cardiology, and telemedicine, involves Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Wills Eye Hospital, Rothman Institute, Vincera Institute, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, and Renfrew Center.
“The idea is to position and understand that Philadelphia is a vanguard city when it comes to medicine,” said Edgar Vesga-Arias, CEO and president for Philadelphia International Medicine, a health-care organization that connects international patients and doctors with specialized services provided at those eight hospitals. “Connecting Philly to an international hub like Panama opens doors of positive economic exchange between both cities.”
Vesga-Arias estimated that 10 physicians could be involved by the end of the year.
Georgia Athanasopulos, the general consul for Panama in Philadelphia, noted how the exchange would benefit both regions: U.S. doctors could learn to treat tropical diseases, and patients in Panama could receive care they typically might not be able to afford.
Among Latin American and Caribbean countries, Panama ranks second, after Colombia, for quality of service for medical tourists, according to the 2016 Medical Tourism Index.