Saturday, July 20, 2024

I’m glad I had my accident in Mexico

When I say to people “I’m glad I had my accident in Mexico” they usually look at me like I grew a second head. But I’m serious. The level of professionalism, attention, rapid response, and modern equipment was mind-boggling. To this day I still don’t know what half the gadgets were but they were all shiny and clean. I can say with confidence that hospital care in Cozumel was better (and cheaper) than I could ever have dreamed of.

If you’ve ever thought that healthcare in Mexico might be a bit backwards, let me share my story with you and change your mind. Here’s what happened…

Natural protected area Cozumel
Cozumel is an island paradise, but you’d think it was a terrible place to suffer a serious injury, right? (Conanp)

Just over a year ago, I had a bicycle accident on Cozumel island in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico. People ran out of a nearby shop to help pick me up while one lovely Mexican lady asked if she could drive me to the ER as she was looking at my arm. 

Following her gaze and looking down, my arm was at a very awkward angle and said “That can’t be good.” So of course, my answer was, “Yes please.” 

While others took my bicycle into the store for safekeeping, we went to the hospital. Walking into the ER a nurse listened as the lady told him in Spanish what had happened. If I weren’t in pain it would have been comical. There were lots of gasps, arms waving and gestures, it was a fun re-enactment of my accident. 

Shown straight to a bed an English-speaking Doctor arrived moments later. With a warm smile and a “Tell me what happened” it finally hit me, I was in the ER. So, trying to be stoic (and failing) the whole story poured out while he held my hand. 

Cozumel hospital
Cozumel has a modern hospital with state of the art facilities. (International Hospital Cozumel)

With a nod and an “Everything will be alright, we will take care of you,” the room became a hive of activity. The nurse took a full medical history to ensure nothing would clash with the pain meds waiting on a tray. An orthopaedic surgeon was called who turned up promptly to give an exam as well as review my chart with the nurse. 

I just lay there amazed at all of the fuss, reclining in the bed wishing I wasn’t still in sweaty bicycle riding gear wondering if anyone had deodorant. Isn’t it silly the things we think of?

Next came a visit to the x-ray technicians who were waiting for me at the door. Honestly, I felt like a bit of a VIP as one thing after the other was immediate, not a line or wait time in sight. Running smoothly like a well oiled machine I can honestly say it was the safest and most comforting experience you could wish for. 

My only concern was when the Orthopaedic surgeon told me he’d have to put me under to pop my elbow back into place. No breaks thankfully, just an elbow going the wrong way. But that did mean anesthetic. For me, that is a problem. My family’s one and only health issue is with blood clotting so the mix of anaesthetic drugs can be an issue. 

The operation was quick, easy and safe thanks to the high standards of care available in Mexico. (Piromn Guillaume/Unsplash)

But the anaesthetist arrived at my bedside, carefully listening to my concerns and even asking me to write the name of my condition and its variant form on the chart so there could be no miscommunication between English and Spanish. 

Which I will admit, put my mind at ease so when it came time for the anaesthetic to be administered my anxiety had dropped to a minimum. My last sight was of the nurse by my side, the surgeon smiling down on me, and the anesthetist holding my hand.

Then black. 

When I came to everything was quiet. They’d even dimmed the lights in my room and drawn the curtain so waking up would be as comfortable as possible. It took the scariness out of the whole event. 

Most of all, my greatest appreciation was the fact that they made it relaxed and peaceful. Down to the fact that the procedure was done in my ER bed. Not in a scary operating room where everything seems a lot worse to my overactive imagination. I mean, an operating room is where you go when it’s really serious right?! 

After all, it was just a popped-out elbow going the wrong way, no bones were sticking out or anything dramatic so I was thankful just to lay in my bed on a fuzzy cloud of almost consciousness. 

By the end of the day all I wanted was to go home, have a shower and finally get out of sweaty bicycle riding clothes. So, closing my eyes in anticipation, I asked for the bill and discharge forms. 

When the bill came I almost fell out of bed. It was so cheap, surely it must be wrong. 

The total was US $350 for everything! Jaw-droppingly inexpensive for an entire day in the ER, Orthopedic surgeon, nurses, x-rays, special anesthetic drugs, and excellent care.

As I said, that was just over a year ago, so the price may have gone up a smidge but I guarantee the staff would still be just as wonderful. 

So, if you ever wondered about the hospital care in Mexico, I can tell you that even on Cozumel island in the Mexican Caribbean, it’s excellent. 

Mexico Correspondent for International Living, Bel is an experienced writer, author, photographer and videographer with 500+ articles published both in print and across digital platforms. Living in the Mexican Caribbean for over 7 years now she’s in love with Mexico and has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.



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