By Ellen Zoe Golden .Photos courtesy: Luis Navarro Bulgarelli
As long as she can remember, Dr. Andrea Messeguer has always found joy in helping others. The San Jose native, found her medical calling as a youngster helping her asthmatic brother when he was in crisis, taking care of him through the experiences until he was better.
When she finished high school, she head to medical school at UCIMED, for studies and practice as an intern.
Messeguer also spent a semester doing rotations as an intern at Boston’s Harvard Medical School with work at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children´s Hospital and some smaller clinics in the area.
Owner and head doctor at The Beach Side Clinic in Huacas, the doctor is also married, with two kids, a 9-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Here’s her story as told to THE Tamarindo News.
THE Tamarindo News: How did you end up practicing medicine in our area?
Andrea Messeguer: I got married before starting my intern year. My husband is an agronomic engineer, and he was hired by his alma matter, EARTH University, at their Liberia campus, in EARTH La Flor, so he moved there.
We had decided that once I finished my studies, I would join him in Guanacaste. I went to work in Liberia, with Proyecto Epidemiológico Guanacaste, now ACIB, a medical research project, involving Costa Rican research with the National Cancer Institute of the USA, in the search for the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine that prevents the infection that leads to cervical cancer. It was one of the most interesting and educational times in my life, but I always felt something missing, the contact with patients. I always thought I was going to go into residency, like all doctors, and become a specialist. But I wanted to have a couple of years of experience as a general physician before presenting the exams to apply for a specialist residency. While working at PEG, my husband and I decided visit our friend, the dental surgeon Anwar Gazel in Playa Grande. He was finishing the construction of a dental clinic there and was thinking about future projects which included my opening a medical office with him in the clinic. After some hesitation—my own practice sounded scary—I offered my services during Semana Santa in 2007, and it was a successful experience. I saw many patients without promoting I was there. So, I started giving consultations on the weekends, it got so busy so quick, that I decided to resign my position at PEG in Liberia to move to Playa Grande and start my practice full time. I made the best decision of my life, I felt happy and fulfilled with my practice, involved with my patients, being able to follow them up until their condition resolved or had to refer them to a higher level of care. Soon after, I was working almost 24/7, responding to patients calls especially during emergencies, at my office any time during the day, even late night or early morning. I also did house calls all over the area, from Potrero to Junquillal, including Tamarindo and everywhere in between. I got called frequently from Flamingo and Potrero. Around July 2012, just when I started to consider opening a second office in Flamingo, to better manage my schedule, I started thinking it was clearly a better answer to establish a real 24/7 medical clinic/urgent care in our area.. Then in October 2012, our Playa Grande Clinic got robbed. It was a big hit to us, they took everything away from us, all our equipment, supplies, medications, nothing was left. I did not had a stethoscope, nothing to work with, nor even an otoscope to look into patients’ ears. Dr. Gazel got all his dental equipment robbed as well. This incident placed us at square zero again, facing to make the decision to start over again like in the very beginning, because the police and OIJ failed to find the robbers or the equipment.
TTN: How did you establish Beach Side Clinic?
AM: During this difficult moment, we announced on our Facebook page that we were going to be closed until further notice because of the robbery. Our patients, and community really showed their support in ways we could never imagine. They could not wait for us to start all over again, and got together to help us get back on track. In a blink of an eye after their huge efforts we were able to be back working in our clinic, right were we left off. We are truly humbled by the experience and grateful for the support and love showed to us. Yet, for me, the idea of a bigger, better 24/7 clinic never left my mind. I started having brainstorming meetings with members of our community to come up with ideas of how this new clinic could become a reality. And after many months dreaming, planning and playing the idea in my mind, a very special person who believed in the project became a founding partner and together, my husband, our partner and myself embarked on the Beach Side Clinic project.
TTN: What does the clinic offer?
AM: We are six doctors, with a main Huacas clinic, with 24/7 medical attention, x-ray services, clinical lab, ground ambulance, dental clinic, pharmacy, observation room, trauma room and minor procedure room, with the capability to have scheduled specialists visits. And medical offices in Playa Grande and Flamingo, and provide medical attention at Las Catalinas for their employees and guests. For a while, we had a Tamarindo office, and expect to be back in the future. We can also coordinate medical air evacuations when needed, and accept international insurance plans as payment method when approved. In Huacas you can always expect a physician and a nurse 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, with the ambulance available and ready to go.
TTN: Tell me about your clinic relations a bit.
AM: I have always been involved in our community and extended the same with Beach Side Clinic. Therefore, we have great relations with CEPIA, Tamarindo Church, Brasilito Community Church, Abriendo Mentes and Futuro Brillante.
We have also been emergency situation relief like during Nate´s storm, where the floods left many families with great needs in every aspect of their lives. Our clinic, with the support of a group of patient volunteers formed a flood relief center that worked hand-in-hand with institutions in our community to provide help to those who needed it. We received donations (money, supplies, food, beds, blankets, pillows, kitchenware, clothes, fans, refrigerators, etc) sorted donations, came up with a storage place, got packets of supplies ready to be delivered, delivered donations, got organized with different institutions to work better and more efficiently in our area, and provided free medical care to many communities in need and provided with donations the required treatment and referred patients to CCSS when needed.
We believe in preparedness, so we provide CPR, first aid, bleed control and whatever we can provide. We believe in supporting local business as our project, so we work as well into providing trainings for them, and offering tailored medical plans for their needs. Our commitment is with people´s health, so we always work in providing the best medical service possible and have as many different services available in our area as we can, supporting our medical team.