Cotacahi Health Chapters

Documents to Prepare and Check Lists

Can you answer these basic preparation questions?

  • Where do you start, when learning about health care in Ecuador?
  • What do you need to do to prepare for a medical emergency?
  • Where do you go in an emergency?
  • What types of issues do you need to be extra concerned about (legal, logistics, cultural, etc.)?
  • Where can you get help making your personal plan?


  • How do you know where to go to find a doctor?
  • Who is your primary doctor?
  • Do you have a back-up doctor in case your regular doctor is not there?

Medical Facilities

  • Do you know the differences between each hospital or clinic in the area?
  • Which hospital has the kind of services you will likely need in an emergency?
  • Which hospital will you go to?
  • Do you know where your hospital is located?


  • Who can you call for transportation in a medical emergency?
  • Do you know a taxi driver who speaks English and will drive late at night?


  • Are your medical records up to date?

Translation Services

  • Do you have an emergency person who will translate for you any time day or night?


  • What will you do in a medical emergency? What’s your plan?
  • Is there a 911 system in Ecuador? How do you use it? Do you know the rules regarding the 911 system in Ecuador (such as the ambulance will only take your to the closest hospital)?
  • Do you have an emergency bug out kit ready to go with toiletries, change of clothing, toilet paper, etc.?
  • If you live upstairs, how would you get to the street level if you can’t walk?
  • Do you have cash at home to pay for emergency treatment?
  • Do you have someone right now who would transport you at any time of day or night in an emergency?
  • Who will pay your bills in an emergency?
  • Who will buy and prepare your food in an emergency?
  • Who would care for your pet if you are hospitalized?

Recommendations for Basic Preparation

Cotacachi Health Chapters recommends the following preparations for medical care:

  1. Fill out an Emergency Information Sheet.  Consider giving a copy of the emergency sheet to someone that you trust. Keep a copy of this information in a folder on the top of your refrigerator (or other designated location). It needs to be easily reached in an emergency by you, a friend or emergency personnel.
  2. Translate your entire medical history into Spanish so it can be handed to the medical providers. What may not seem key to you, may in reality, be key to your medical provider.
  3. Be sure that someone has keys to your house and knows your gate code. In an emergency, someone will likely need to get into your house to get your emergency information.
  4. Have $500 in cash (or on a debit card) in your emergency folder for whoever finds you or is taking you to the hospital. This money would be used to pay for initial treatment and transportation to an emergency clinic or hospital.  No treatments will be given in Ecuador if you don’t pay for them at time of service.  In many cases, you’ll also have to go to a pharmacy to pay for medication and to bring it to the hospital yourself.  Note, many hospitals do not accept credit cards.
  5. Have a ‘go bag’ ready to take with you with basic toiletries and change of underwear, perhaps towel and washcloth.  (These items are not provided by the hospital).
  6. Have the names and numbers of taxis who would come and get you any time of day or night.  Even if you call 911, no one may come for quite a while as there are only a few ambulances and they might be at a distance in outlying areas.  Additionally, the ambulance will only take you to the Cotacachi Hospital and not your possible hospital of choice in another town.
  7. You must have a notarized POA document giving a trusted person the authority to make medical decisions for you, if you are incapacitated.  Prepare this document and put it with your emergency medical information. If you want to be cremated, you must have your intention documented and have it notarized.  You can include this final directive with your POA (Power of Attorney) for medical decisions.
  8. You also need to consider cremation or burial arrangements and how to pay for these services.  These costs must be paid at time of service.  There are prepaid plans available, or you can have the cash on hand to use when needed.  You can find information about these services on the Cotacachi Health Chapters website. See also the End of Life Planning page.
  9. As a Visa holder, you must have medical insurance in Ecuador, either through IESS or a private plan. If you have IESS, you need to go to clinics and hospitals within that system for care.  The Cotacachi Health Chapters site contains information about hospitals and clinics.

Example Emergency Medical Plan

This is a summary checklist to organize your Emergency Medical Preparation Plan and it can be printed and carried on your person in the event of accident.

Download the document in different formats:


Microsoft Word

Pages (on Apple devices)

Emergency Medical Forms

Below you’ll find two emergency forms and two pages which can be used as an expansion to the original forms.

These forms have been designed to provide the information you will need to have with you for an emergency visit to a clinic or hospital. We recommend you also take with you a substantial amount of cash and/or a credit card. Remember that you will not be allowed to check out of an hospital or clinic unless you have insurance or have paid the bill.

How to use the forms

  1. Click the button for the form you’d like to fill out below. This will open the PDF form in a new browser window or tab.
  2. The forms have been set up to be filled out online which allows you to fill out the information right from your browser before printing it. (Note that the information provided in the form will not be stored anywhere. See below for a way to save a digital version of the form for your records.)
  3. Alternatively you can print out the blank form and fill out the fields manually.
  4. If you have additional information or use more medications than the original form allows you to enter, you can use one of the extra pages (lower two buttons) to add to the original form.

Interactive PDF forms are not supported by all browsers. We found that the interactive forms do work on Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. On mobile devices with Android or iOS (iPhone/iPad) you’ll need to install a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat (recommended).

Important Notes

  • In case your browser settings don’t allow to open pages in a new window or tab, there should be a notification indicating that this action has been blocked which allows you to give permission.
  • If you rather not do the above you can also right-click on either button and select “Save links as” or “Save target as” (or similar). This saves the form to your computer at a location of your choice. From here you can open the file in a PDF reader or in your browser from where you can follow the same steps as above.
  • As mentioned before, no information filled out in the forms will be stored. This means that filling out the form and then downloading it will erase everything and you’ll have downloaded an empty form. To give you an option to store a digital copy of the filled out form for your records, select print and then in the section where you can choose a printer select “Save as PDF” (this might differ per browser) which will save the completed form with all data to your computer.
  • For your security, when you fill out the form make sure to NOT include sensitive information like credit card details, security codes, bank log in information, etc. You never know who’ll see this form in case of an emergency or online.

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