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.

Cosmetic 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!

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