Meet Dr. Peter Jasinski, a Poland-born doctor living in Colombia. After graduating from Vienna Medical School in Austria, he spent time on his PhD thesis at the University of Minnesota in the United States.
Upon his return, Dr. Jasinski worked in trauma and orthopedics in Austria to complete his residency training. After encountering several problems during his time working there, he decided to take some time out and travel.
One of Dr Jasinski’s destinations was Colombia, which is where his medical degree was validated, and he opened his own clinic.
We spent some time asking him about his experiences as a doctor in Colombia.
What gave you the courage to start a clinic in Colombia?
It definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I knew there was a lot of opportunity here.
I started my clinic to cater to tourists who didn’t understand the language or Colombian culture. Eventually, I branched out and also started working with hospitals and embassies.
I did consider expanding outside of Bogota at one stage, but the drive to surrounding areas is just too far. Patients with serious cases are usually willing to travel to Bogota to receive treatment if need be.
What are the most common cases that you treat?
Older patients tend to contact me about respiratory problems due to Bogota’s high altitude. Some of the other cases include insect and monkey bites, as well as dengue fever during a few months of the year. I also often treat gastroenteritis caused by amoeba in the water.
What are the best seasons to travel to Colombia?
March to May and September to October are the best times to visit. I don’t recommend scheduling your trip between December and January – it gets too crowded.
What was one of your most memorable cases?
I remember a case where a German woman called me saying her boyfriend was dying. He needed medication, but the hospitals were too crowded, so nobody was assisting him. I met them at the hospital and took them back to the hotel where I administered an IV. After arranging a flight to Bogota, doctors from Germany arrived 4 days later to take him back home. It turns out he was experiencing complications linked to the Zika virus. It causes gradual paralysis and without help, you can stop breathing. Fortunately, he recovered completely.
What are some of your recommendations for tourists vacationing in Colombia?
Don’t travel without a mosquito spray with a DET over 25%. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to take medication for malaria because there are too many strains. If you are planning to hike, always tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your shoes. This goes a long way in preventing mosquito bites.
Do not drink the tap water – always stick to bottled water, even when brushing your teeth.
Drugs are a problem in Colombia, so never accept an open drink – always open it yourself. It’s also highly recommended that you never mix drugs with energy drinks.
What should visitors see and eat during their time in Colombia?
The best view of Bogota can be seen from the Monserrate church. If you want to experience the outdoors and Colombian culture, I recommend the coffee zone, which is where most coffee is grown. You can also explore a volcano there. For those who want to hike, the Santa Marta National Park is a must. The Caribbean coastline is also very beautiful.
In terms of food, tourists should try red snapper fish and the fruit that Colombia has to offer. You can find a lot of fresh food and produce at the Paloquemao market.