Afraid of Medical Care South
of the Border?
Ten years ago, the fear of needing emergency medical or dental care while
south of the border ranked close to the fear of running out of gas while
crossing the railroad tracks; both had you calling for spiritual guidance!
In 1997, shortly after we moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, referred to
as PV or Vallarta by the locals, a friend of ours elected to have a substantial
amount of cosmetic surgery done here in PV. At that time, there were a
number of small hospitals and clinics in town, however only two that she
considered. One was of the 50´s vintage and the other more like
the 60´s because it had window air-conditioners in the three patient
rooms. My son, a surgical veterinarian in California, would have been
reluctant to practice his specialty in the other hospitals and clinics!
The surgical procedure on our friend was satisfactory and although none
of the nurses spoke English, the attention and care she received during
recuperation were excellent. At that time, good medical care was difficult
to find in Vallarta and if anyone needed major medical care, they would
need to go to Guadalajara or fly to the States. In 1997 there were a number
of dentists in PV, but they were pretty scary looking places, resembling
those you saw in the 60´s, although a couple of them did have window
air-conditioners. Ten years ago, if you had a broken arm, toothache, etc.,
you were best off flying back to the good old USA for care.
Now, ten years later, we have two huge, ultra modern, fully equipped hospitals
and one smaller, yet still modern hospital in Vallarta. Of course, many
of the small dilapidated hospitals still exist, but would not be considered
by North Americans. The small AmeriMed Hospital is fully capable of handling
most emergencies, conducting most testing, and is adequate for all but
the most serious problems. Across the street from AmeriMed is the new
San Javier Hospital which was built about five years ago. This ultra modern
hospital is capable of handling just about every medical problem imaginable.
They recently performed emergency open heart surgery on a cruise boat
passenger. San Javier has an MRI machine, cardiac catheterization, angioresonance,
neuroradiologic, mammographic, ecosonographic, etc. equipment. Of course
the patient recovery rooms meet the highest standards, equipped with everything
you would expect in a fine US hospital. The newest hospital is the Cornerstone
Hospital which was built two years ago and meets the same standards as
the new Cornerstone Hospitals in Texas. Cornerstone has the only Radiology
Clinic in Western Mexico with state-of-the-art CAT scan and MRI equipment.
It is the center for dialysis and lithotripsy as well as having emergency
pediatric care, full cardiac services, an ophthalmology department, a
24 hour emergency room, an intensive care unit, an on-site pharmacy, recovery
room, and beautiful, almost plush, patient rooms.
Between San Javier and Cornerstone, we are fully covered for any matter
pertaining to orthopedics, trauma, nephrology, urology, anesthesiology,
internal medicine, gastroenterology, obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology,
rheumatology, neurology, cardiology, general surgery, plastic and reconstructive
surgery, hematology, dermatology, and just about anything that ails you.
These hospitals accept most all international insurance and the majority
of the US veteran benefits. In fact, the veterans here indicate that they
are receiving better care in PV than the overcrowded VA facilities in
the US. Virtually all the doctors and nurses in these hospitals speak
English. Furthermore, the majority of the doctors have received part of
their education in the States or Europe. There are two main differences
between these hospitals and those in the States. They are price and service!
Surgical procedures and hospital services are a third to a half of what
they are in the States. The attention, care, and follow-up far exceed
that in the US. The doctors and nurses really care and treat each patient
as a friend. They seem to be more interested in treating and curing the
patient than they are in collecting the money. Most doctors carry cell-phones
and are available for consultation 24 hours a day.
and reconstructive surgery has become so popular in PV that many Americans
and Canadians come here specifically for a nip and tuck. So many, that
a major spa specializing in postoperative care is currently in the planning
stage, allowing those in the market to come to Paradise for a week or
two and return home looking ten years younger!
Today, there are a few exceptional dentists in Vallarta, each with state-of-the-art
offices meeting US standards. Root canals, caps, crowns, and implants
are done on a daily basis in beautiful, high-tech, and sterile offices.
Again, they are all fluent in English and their prices are a third to
a half of what they are in the States. For that reason, many North Americans
are also coming here for new caps, crowns, and implants- maybe the same
people that come for the cosmetic surgery!
We don’t look forward to needing any of the new medical clinics,
state-of-the-art hospitals, or modern dental offices, however if and when
the time comes, we’ll certainly not be afraid of medical care south
of the border!