Mike Nelson is not an expert in Mexican Medical Care but he is willing to share his first-hand experience with Mexican Medical Care. To us, this is even more valuable. Here is his story.
I have not always been all-knowing and all-seeing. In fact, I was like a lot of people who had a superficial knowledge of Mexico, based on a lot of traveling and living there for a time. Of course, I thought I was an expert on everything. Know anyone like that?
To top things off, I wrote for several guidebooks to make a living. To be fair, I was not quite an ignoramus, but I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Sometimes, we learn prejudices, cloaked as facts, and use them to dress our speech. I say this, in the hopes that whenever some blowhard, er nice person, tries to tell you he/she “knows” Mexico, you will always get a second opinion.
So there I was, 15 years ago in Uruapan, Michoacán. I was not feeling well, so I sent for a doctor, who came to my hotel. He suggested I see a doctor with diagnostic equipment in the morning, but his initial diagnosis was that my appendix probably wanted to stay in Mexico with or without me. BTW, hotel doctors are generally regarded as less than the best. At least that is what other doctors have told me. I’ve encountered many over the years and been darned glad they were there.
I was scared, I thought Mexican hospitals were inferior, unclean, and not where I wanted to be. I told my companion that I would rather risk a ruptured appendix during the 2-day drive back to McAllen than risk going to a Mexican hospital. Never mind that I would be putting her life in jeopardy. My mind was made up. Can you say, “self-centered”?
The Experience with Mexican Medical Care
The next day, I saw another doctor with an X-Ray machine and a lot of modern medical equipment. But more importantly, he listened to my symptoms, asked questions and did a hands-on exam. He did not exactly say it this way, but basically; I was so full of gas that I was a walking gasbag. My soon-to-be ex-girlfriend concurred. No operation needed.
A few years later, I totaled my Ford Bronco in a one-vehicle rollover. I injured my pinkie. Although a Mexican hospital was essential across the highway from my hotel, I didn’t go. By then I knew they were modern and well-equipped, but I had had so many bad experiences with US hospitals waiting for “emergency” care that I didn’t want to take the time.
So, to prove how ignorant I was, Fate waited until 6 years ago. In Saltillo, Coahuila, I suddenly felt so weak and in such pain that I doubled over. There (again) was a hospital across the street, so my wife drove me there around midnight. Mexican Medical Care? I was seen within minutes of being wheeled into the Emergency Room. In a few minutes, I had two doctors and several nurses asking and poking. I was unable to talk in any language, so they had their hands full, though one doctor spoke English. They X-ray’d and hooked up to various machines within half an hour. I was admitted and a specialist was by my side within an hour.
I, of course, was freaking out about how much this would cost. But what was I going to do – crawl out? They finally asked for a credit card and I could not get my wallet out of my pants without excruciating pain. Eventually, my wife figured it out and plopped some plastic on the counter. Everybody smiled.
My Hospital Room in Mexico
The private room had a wall hanging, some artwork and subdued lighting. There was a sleeper sofa for my wife and the nurse brought her blankets. I had an IV in me and some kind of machine was monitoring my vitals. I was pretty high by this time but began whimpering. She came over and got into the hospital bed with me to calm me like you would any scared child. OK, so I am not as macho as I appear. She married me anyway.
During the night, the nurse looked in. The door of the room was shut which made it possible for me to sleep. Try that in most American hospitals. Once the IV came loose and before my wife could even touch the call button, the nurse came in penlight in hand. She fixed me up and left. They did not require my wife to leave my bed. Can you imagine Nurse Ratched letting that go in a US hospital?
In the morning, after a really good breakfast for both of us, the specialist dropped by, poked me a bit, asked me some questions, and said I could leave the hospital if I promised to take it easy (I had a really nasty pulmonary infection). And he said to come back in a week to make sure everything was okay. Then he gave me a week’s worth of expensive medicine. With dread, I walked to the checkout window. The bill for everything including the medicine was a little under $1,000USD.
I just read a Yahoo article about an AZ woman who went to a hospital for three hours after suffering a scorpion bite. She got two injections of a Mexican drug, Anascorp, that costs $100 in Mexico. It cost $39,652 a dose in AZ. Total bill, $83,046. So the US hospital charged “only” about $1,000 an hour. The drops I take for my glaucoma cost $120 in McAllen. Ten miles away in Reynosa, they cost $30. Are they the same? Imprinted on the bottle is, “Hecho en Ft. Worth, TX EEUA.” Go figure.
My Final Thoughts
So, if you are in Mexico and need medical care, do not hesitate to get it. You will be in good hands and one of them won’t be in your wallet. Not everyone has my experience with Mexican medical care, but I hope yours is as positive as mine.
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