Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Surgery in Mexico: A Testimonial

Cindy Lundy, back home after getting hip surgery in Mexico
One of the main reasons why Americans get surgery in Mexico is because they are underinsured or have no insurance and can't afford the treatment they need in the US. Cindy Lundy, from Bend, Oregon is one of them. Here's her story:

I had problems walking for years now. When I lost my job, I didn't take the COBRA option (an insurance option for people who left employment) since it cost $900 dollars a month.

Originally, I wanted to postpone the surgery until I was 65. However, the hip worsened and I saw that it would have been hard to wait until then.

I started to look for options. I was shocked to discover how inaccessible the surgery was for me at home. One surgeon told me that without insurance, I'd have to have $65,000 in the bank. Another one sent me to a charity agency, but I was too embarrassed to go. I also didn't have much confidence in the safety of that place.

I looked up for options abroad. India seemed like a good choice and I filled up questionnaires and called numbers. Soon, I was receiving e-mails and calls back. However, their level of English wasn't too good and the calls came so often I felt harrassed. Obviously, this was not something that made me feel at ease.

I heard from a friend that she went with her daughter to Thailand to get her teeth fixed. Although Thailand was not that different in my mind from India, I decided I would feel better if someone came with me.

My husband would come with me, of course, but I needed assurance with the language. Then, one day, we went to visit his sister in Sonora, Mexico. This lead to us meeting their real-estate agent back in the US and by bringing the subject up, a contact that would help us get the surgery in Mexico.

The contact was very assuring. She was knowledgeable and didn't sound at all like a slick salesperson.

Once in Mexico, we saw the doctor, who asked me right away if I had an X-ray of my hip taken. When I said I hadn't, he sent me across the hall to get it. It cost 125 pesos, about $12 dollars, and I had it right away.

The doctor then proceeded to explain to me everything about the procedure and what my options were. He spoke very good English but with a Mexican accent. We decided to get the surgery two weeks after that, to give him enough time to gather the equipment he needed and for me to make up my mind and arrange things back at home.

When it came to select a room in the hospital, I chose the best one I could afford because I thought it would be safer. The room turned out to be a bit too big. It measured around 800 square feet. It had an ante for family visits and a person to stay with me at night (apparently a very common custom in Mexico).

After the surgery, I stayed in the hospital for two days and the doctor visited me every day. The on-duty doctor at night visited me as well.

I was sent to my hotel in an ambulance, where I stayed there for 2 weeks in recovery. I had a nurse who came to bathe me and take care of my and my wound. She didn't speak a word of English, but she had a charming way to communicate with me via expressions and movements. The day I left, she brought me some cookies she had prepared. I never felt such humane treatment in my life.

When I left, the waiters and maids and receptionists at the hotel were all very smiley and kind and wished me good luck in my recovery.

Of course, I was afraid of going to Mexico before the experience, having heard all the negative things about violence there on TV. My family warned me more than once. Some of my friends act like I was lucky to be back alive. I've also had the occasional comment about how I risked my life with bad surgery just to save a few dollars. Anyone who has spent some time in Mexico knows that these questions are ridiculous.

The whole experience, including meals and hotel was $15,500 dollars.

My father was a physician, a general practitioner, I compare the medical profession in Mexico to the day when  my father would make house calls in our small town. Doctors spend time with you and listen. That is no longer possible in the US.

I found this story in a magazine. While researching it, I discovered it was published on Inside Tucson Business. To read their version, go here.


Robert Ervin is a freelancer who writes about healthcare, medical tourism, and living in Mexico.

If you're considering traveling to Mexico for healthcare or retiring in Mexico, you may want to get yourself a copy of The English's Speaker's Guide to Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico, in order to find a good doctor or hospital in the main towns and cities of Mexico, or The English Speaker's Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, to understand how the Mexican healthcare system works. 

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