Medicine is Personal in Mexico

March 20, 2013

I’ve had a lot of experience with health care in Mexico over the last four and a half months.  Seemingly endless tests, lab work, doctor appointments, surgery, and chemotherapy.  It’s been pretty intense, and I thought you’d be interested in why I love medical care here.  Mainly, it’s because it’s personal.

All of my appointments and surgery have been at smaller clinics and hospitals.  I had my surgery at Central Médica Quirúrgica back in November, my chemotherapy at Hospital CEMSI Chapultepec in Culiacan, and in between chemotherapy treatments I get daily injections at Clinica Siglo XXI.  That’s Clinica Siglo XXI pictured at the top of this post.

What is different about medical care here?  Aside from the fact that you can often get a same day appointment, even with a specialist? Here’s what I have noticed during my doctor appointments:

  • I never, ever, have been made to feel rushed.  The doctors have taken all the time I needed to explain things or to reassure me.
  • Doctors actually touch you.  When I was having an exam with an internist to check if I was healthy enough for surgery, he actually put his hand on my shoulder while listening to my heart.  I was very anxious and it helped bring me back to earth.
  • Even specialists do their own work.  My gynecological oncologist taught Paul and me how to change my dressing and changed it himself every time he examined me.
  • I have email addresses and cell phones for both my oncologists.  I email lab results to the oncologist in Culiacán and had an email exchange with my oncologist here when I needed his recommendation when dealing with symptoms.  I even called his cell phone once not long after surgery and he answered and helped me right away.

In between my chemotherapy appointments I need between 15 and 20 injections. I’m sent home from Culiacán with a foam cooler with the medicine on ice, and during the following three weeks I walk down to Clinica Siglo XXI most mornings.  I take the medicine and an insulin syringe and the nurses there give me either one or two shots.  You might think “so what?” but they really do take personal care of me and I appreciate it more than I can say.

I always try to get there around 8 am, after the shift change but before they get too busy.  Even the cleaning lady greets me and will go look for a nurse if no one else is around.  The doctors that run the clinic are friendly and sympathetic; they always get a nurse to help me promptly, too.  I have seen most of the rooms in the clinic, and it is a tidy, nice clinic that truly cares for people in a personal way.

Lots of people here in México will give themselves their own shots when necessary, but for me the sense of community, friendly interactions, and painless injections make twenty pesos ($1.61 US) a bargain.

I always have short conversations with the nurses, about their family or mine – or chemotherapy or shots.  When we’re done and I tell them I’ll see them tomorrow, without fail they’ll answer “if God wills it.”  I was so glad my sisters went with me while they were here so they could understand what I love about it here.

One thing I love here is how strangers greet each other.  If there are people in a waiting room when I walk in, I greet them all individually with a smile and a “good morning.”  If there is a receptionist, often she’ll recognize me and say “Hello Miss Nancy” and put two fingers together in the universal sign for “just a moment” and say “un ratito.”  After my shot or appointment, I’ll say “con permiso” or “adios” (with your permission or goodbye) to those still in the waiting room – and generally receive a que le vaya bien (travel well) with a smile in return.

My neighbors also make me feel very special, from the lady at the puesto (food stand) greeting me as she sets up for the day, to the car wash guys inquiring as to my health or various neighbors with greetings as they walk their dogs or return from the mercado

I would say that in general México is personal, and that medical care in México is the best care for me.


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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. This is a great report Nancy, it had lots of very welcome information, which could only have been gleaned as a result of your experiences. Sharing with us allows us a window which cannot otherwise have and which would be invaluable in the event of some challenge like the one you are going through. Many thanks.

    1. I agree with Wendy, Nancy, it is so kind of you to share your experiences with us. It has made me feel more settled about the health care here, just to hear how you have been treated so effectively and with dignity and compassion.

    1. This is good news Nancy. You need every reassurance while you are healing. I think of you often and send my best wishes. We were in Maz the last week in January.

      Maybe next year we could meet for coffee!

      Take care. xo


    1. When my sister-in-law fell and broke her nose, the ER doctor took her personally to the X-ray, and he was the one that sewed up her cut. He never left her side.

      The friendliness is great-people smile and greet you when you walk down the street. Living in a small town I am pretty used to it, but it’s still a nice surprise in such a big city.

    1. You’ve nicely summarized why I also prefer to be under a doctor’s care in Mexico. Service is readily available, of high caliber, and it’s friendly and personal. I have not been through any major illnesses, but the visits and tests I have had over the years have gone much like you indicate here.

      I am glad your recovery is going well.

    1. Just one more thing that underlines the general malaise north of the border in relation to medical care. There, the bottom line, in and out, productivity. Here, the personal, the caring, the “realness” of most everyone you meet, which carries over to the medical side as well. From what other friends have told me, and from reading your blog, it is major. It is healing. It is healthy-care. So happy you received it and are still feeling so good about it, Nancy.

    1. Nancy, a lovely post that should assuage the fears of many. I’m happy to know that
      your concerns are addressed and you feel you are getting good care. That certainly helps in the healing.

      We are all rooting for your complete recovery.

      I too, have experience the personal touch of the physicians in Mexico. While in Houston, in the hospital with whooping cough, they decided I couldn’t take any of
      my medications prescribed by my cardiologist in Mexico! I freaked. A friend in SMA called him. I immediately had a call from the cardiologist who calmed me, talked to the nurse and then gave me his cell phone #. Add to that that he was leaving on vacation the following day but called me daily while on his VACATION!
      I was speechless.

      Many more stories of commitment by the physicians I’ve come in contact with in the last 12 years here in Mexico. I feel blessed.

      I must, in defense of the USA medical system, say that the 5 1/2 years spent with my daughter in and out of MDAnderson also showed a level of compassion and caring that I never expected to find in a place that large. Each and every person was committed and cared.

    1. Hi Nancy: Long time no wrote, I know. But when I read this post I had to chime in and say I’m sending positive energy your way, as well as prayers for your successful and speedy recovery.

    1. Great post. Your experiences with Mexican medical care reflect mine perfectly. I am about finished with explaining it all to my friends up north. They really do not get it. And maybe I would have been the same without my own experience — and having the honor of sharing yours.

    1. What a wonderful tribute to the Mexican health care system. So very very different from the treatment and lack of compassion I have received over the past 2.5 years in Canada. I am glad you have been the recipient of such great care.

      1. Thanks, everyone! I have really been so pleased with all the care I’ve received here and I wouldn’t for a minute consider going NOB for anything having to do with my health. I have private health insurance through AXA, I bought it in Mazatlan from Juan Chong – and I’ve been very pleased with their service, too. The policy covers me in Mexico and if I am traveling in the US and need care it will cover up to 50K I think and if it will be more than that they’ll bring me home. I’m sure the price would be different for everyone but it costs me $1400 US per year. I think it is well worth it!

    1. Nancy, I’ve got a similar health policy from AXA at about the same price. I recommend it to friends. It’s a very good deal.

    1. I rarely read an entire blog post as I hurriedly surf through my day, but I really enjoyed this and read the entire thing.

      I had no idea you were ill, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers amiga. Cuidate mucho. xo

    1. Being cared for by real people , with real feelings and who really care for you makes all the difference in the world! So glad to see you are getting that kind of care .

    1. Hi Nancy….gotta give a big ‘like’ to your post. I’ve had the same thoughts about the warm and courteous greetings Mexicans give when enterting and leaving the room or even on the street, and most important, they teach their children this also. I’m so glade you are doing well and when I see the smile on your face when I run into you, it gives me a great feeling. Keep up that great attitude and positive energy!…..un fuerte abrazo…..John

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