Yes, there are American-trained doctors in Chapala and Ajijic. There’s a dentist in Riberas del Pilar (just east of Ajijic about 10 minutes by car, towards Chapala) who is US-trained. The eye doctor that I used for my cataract surgery is trained both in Mexico and the US. There are good many doctors who have US backgrounds, if not in school then in residencies in the US.
Personally, I’m not concerned if my doctor is US-trained. The medical training here, particularly in Guadalajara (about an hour from Ajijic) is fabulous. They are up on the latest medical care technologies. I just don’t worry about it. You can get recommendations from people who have all used these doctors and if somebody has a bad experience, they’ll tell you. If they had a fabulous experience, they will tell you.
There are several fabulous cardiologists in Guadalajara, including Dr. Nájar, who is at Hospital Bernardette. Here’s a story that absolutely appalled my physicians in Tuscaloosa. My wife’s brother passed away suddenly of a heart attack about 6 years ago. He was 64 years old, the figure of good health. He just came back from a run one day, sat down in an easy chair, and was gone. After this experience, when my wife and I came back to Mexico she thought it probably would be smart to have a stress test. So our local Ajijic doctor, Dr. Leon, arranged with Dr. Nájar for my wife to come up and have a stress test. Our appointment was at 10:30, right in Centro Guadalajara. When we got there at 10:30, we were told that Dr. Nájar had been called away on an emergency. His nurse said he was sorry but if we wanted to have the test done, we would have to back around 1 o’clock. We said, “No problem. We’ll go sightseeing. It’s fine.”
When we got back at 1 o’clock, Dr. Nájar took us into his office, and explained everything he was doing. He explained how the test was done, the treadmill, what everything indicated while it was going on, etc., things that no doctor in the US would do. In the US, they would just do the test. Dr. Nájar made my wife Martha as comfortable as possible.
When we were leaving I asked him where I should pay and he said, “No, don’t worry about it. I was late, so I’m not going to charge you.” Then he asked me how we had traveled to his office, to which I told him that we took the bus. He responded, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll call my driver and have him take you back to Ajijic.”
When I told this story to my surgeon friends in Tuscaloosa, they just couldn’t believe that a doctor would throw away, money like that or spend the time to personally do the test. In the US, a technician would do the test and report back to the doctor. That’s just the kind of quality of care that you get here. It’s a whole different mind-set with Mexicans. They’re caring, and they’re concerned.
There are so many nursing homes here opening up because the people who work in the nursing homes they treat all of their clients like family whereas in the US, you’re paying five times more than what it costs here and they’re afraid to get close to the clients because they’re afraid of lawsuits. It’s a totally different situation for a fraction of the cost.
(Cardiologist Dr. Sergio Nájar López, Guadalajara, Mexico, pictured.)