By Giannina Segnini
Early in the morning of July 12, 2005, nurse Patricia Fallas sacrificed her life while guiding dozens of patients to safety as flames engulfed the Calderon Guardia Hospital. The appalling state of the building — the lack of emergency devices and signs — was among the leading reasons for the fire that caused the death of 16 patients and three nurses, who heroically struggled to save the lives of those for which they were caring.
Days after the tragedy, officials from the Costa Rican Social Security Institution (CCSS—Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) said that there had been insufficient funds to pay for the hospital’s necessary safety renovations, which several studies had labeled urgent during the past few decades. The story of this fire shows the direct effect of corruption on the life of Costa Ricans.