Oaxaca Healthcare: Free for the People

From personal experience I can tell you that tapping into the public health care system is low cost and easy if you are living or visiting in Oaxaca. This morning I presented myself at the Centro de Salud in Teotitlan del Valle with symptoms that I had pretty much determined via internet research were the cause of shingles.  I am not going to share photos with you!  And, this is not what I had intended to write about today, but here goes!

The clinic is a clean and modern building staffed with nurses and medical specialists, including gynecologists, pediatricians, psychologists, dentists, and social workers.

I took a seat along with about 15 people — men, women, children, babies — to wait our turn.  After the nurse in charge of intake took my name and age, she weighed me and measured my height.   The total wait before I saw the doctor was 40 minutes, about the same amount of time I can wait for an appointment in the U.S. that I have made months in advance.

After the diagnosis was confirmed, the doctor prescribed the necessary anti-viral and pain medications, which the on-site pharmacy dispensed immediately.  When I asked, the doctor said what I had was familiar here, too.  The medicine and office visit is free for local people.  For people who don’t live in the pueblo, the suggested donation is 20 pesos (that’s less than $2 USD).   I put 100 pesos (that’s about $8 USD) in the donation box.

My ailment will be treated over the course of five or six days.  I feel so much better now that I have pastillas (pills) in my system.  The doctor asked that I follow-up with him in six days to make sure I’m healing well.

Meanwhile, I suggest, if you are older than age 50 and  haven’t done so,  to get a shingles vaccination.

P.S. This summer physician assistant and nursing students from Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, will do an externship here, learning how the Mexican healthcare system works. I organize this through the program leaders at the university, helping the students secure lodging and getting approvals for them to work in the clinic.  Today gave me a chance to see how the system works from the inside!  It’s very good.


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