Pablo Tobón Uribe: The Hospital With Soul

Pablo Tobón Uribe
Atrium at the Hospital
Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe
Entrance to Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe (photo: David Lee)

In the wilds of Comuna Robledo, up the hill a bit in the west side of town, rises Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe.

Founded in 1970, this private, non-profit, 371-bed hospital is considered by paisas I interviewed to be the best in town. It has also been recognized as one of the top hospitals in all of Latin America.

For what it’s worth, it has a star rating of 4.8 out of 5 in Google Reviews, with patient comments like these:

“I have to say my experience at Hospital Pablo Tobon Uribe was wonderful. The staff treats everyone equally and efficiently. I like their logo- The Hospital with a Soul – because it’s true. The hospital is comfortable and very modern. My care was excellent!”

It may be a little out-of-the-way for those who live on the east side of the river, but for those of us in Laureles, Estadio and Belén it is very conveniently located.

My own experience there for a week bears out the praiseful testimony on Google. I was admitted to the Emergency ward and was listed in their triage order correctly for what ailed me.

I was asked at the time if I needed an English translator to help. At this point I said “no” since it was clear from the nurses’ communications that everything was going correctly.

Emergency entrance
Emergency entrance

I spent one night in Emergency, and while noisy, it was comfortable and sleep came easily. The battery of tests continued through the night…blood, heart, vital signs and visits by an internist and a specialist in gastroenterology. What did I have? A bleeding ulcer.

And I was scheduled to be married the next day. Could that have been the cause? No. And no jokes please! I’ve heard them all.

We were able to postpone the wedding, so I was checked in to a luxurious (no other word for it) private room on the 12th floor with of course, this being Medellín, a spectacular view.

Over the next few days I got treated for the ulcer including an upper GI endoscope, and received what I would call a 68-year check up and check out.

I left the hospital feeling healthier and more alive that I have in quite a while. How can a recommendation be better than that?

Atrium at the Pablo Tobon Uribe Hospital
Atrium at the Pablo Tobon Uribe Hospital

The hospital is currently undergoing construction, but my room was on the opposite side so I heard nothing. When I was moved to the fourth floor for procedures, I could see the massive hole and girdering.

The fourth floor is a modern marvel. They have everything any hospital in the States would have. Besides being a general hospital, they specialize in renal and cancer care, bariatric surgery, and pediatrics.

Four of the five doctors who looked in on me and formed my committee spoke pretty good English. Two were perfect English speakers. And as I said, there are trained medical interpreters available.

There is a department which deals with foreign patients, so-called “medical tourists,” which handles insurance and language and correspondence with the “home” medical establishment specializing in cancer care and tomographic diagnosis.

At the time I was in Pablo Tobón, I was not covered by any insurance. Medicare of course does not travel out of the United States. Grrrrrr…. So, “Going Naked” caught up with me.

But for all of the services, private room, emergency services, medications, follow-ups and procedures, my total bill for seven days in hospital was $7,000.

Modern interior offices
Modern interior offices

Since I was a Private Patient, Paciente Particular, they accepted only cash. We scraped it together. Since I am now married to a Colombian, I am covered by EPS, so no more out-of-pocket payments for me. How’s your insurance?

You might consider a trek to the wilds of Robledo for your medical care. A large general hospital has advantages, and Pablo Tobón Uribe is one of the best.

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  1. When you say you are now covered by EPS since being married, does that mean you would be able to choose this hospital for any further emergency procedures or care even though it is a private hospital? I have EPS Sura also and am still not clear of what my options would be for emergency or hospital care. Could you please elaborate here if you have a better understanding of the system?

    Thanks, Ron

  2. Hi, thanks for the article. Two things:

    1). My husband and I (he is British and I am Colombian/British) suffered a horrendous road accident on our way to JMC airport earlier on this month (the microbus we were travelling on overturned on via Las Palmas). After having been treated in a hospital near the airport, we decided to come and have the rest of our treatment at Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe (HPTU), and we have been very pleased with the services they offer -they really have exceeded our expectations. The A&E Department is excellent as well as the out-patients, in-patients areas. Even the telephone operators, security guards, and admin staff are courteous, polite, and helpful. We have had several appointments with nurses, GPs, specialists, surgeons, physiotherapists, wound clinics, radiologists, neurosurgeons, and they have all been great. The hospital is very clean, and it has a great atmosphere (for a hospital, that is!). We really cannot praise this hospital enough!
    PS. My husband does not have any EPS coverage. However, as we were travelling with a bus company that covers only the Medellín-JMC airport / JMC airport – Medellín route, their SOAT (Mandatory Insurance for Traffic Accidents) has had to cover all the health treatment costs we have required so far (hospitalisation, surgery, specialist appointments, medicines, etc). We were not sure which hospital to go to at first, as not all hospitals treat patients coming through SOAT, but we were very lucky HPTU do (I learned they do through word of mouth).

    1). Although I found this article very interesting and fair, I am not sure why the expression “wilds of Robledo” is used here. Robledo, just as El Poblado, Belén, and other “comunas” in Medellín, comprises a vast area. For example, Pilarica, the neighbourhood where the hospital is located, is a nice place to live and is Estrato 4 (I am mentioning this for those hung up on estratos). The area is known for the “Milla Hospitalaria” or “Health Mile” because, along with HPTU, it is also home to other prestigious hospitals such Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana, and Clínica Cardiovascular, among others. This area also accounts for 80 % of the public higher education institutions in the city of Medellín. Perhaps this is something you could explore further in another article.

    • Hi Isabel, Thanks for your comments. There is a more detailed article about Robledo coming for this site that I wrote. My Colombian girlfriend is from Robledo so I have been there several times. I agree with your comment about “wilds of Robledo” – the comuna of Robledo has several nice areas and I am aware Robledo has more universities than other parts of the city.

  3. I went to Pablo Tobon Uribe in Feb 2008 for an inguinal hernia. I was operated on at 9AM and left the hospital at 1PM. I actually got some work done that day and was in my office two days later. Everything was professional and smooth. Total cost for everything was $1275 USD. Amazing and no scar.