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.