It may have been a while since my last post, but I haven’t been idle. In the last few weeks, I’ve traveled to Mexicali to check in, have some dental work done as well as attending professional conferences and working on my next locum tenens assignment.
First – some updates on Mexicali:
I don’t have photos to accompany these updates, but the new emergency department at Hospital General de Mexicali is big, beautiful and open for business.
I also met with both Carlo Bonfante and Dr. Carlos Ochoa to talk about some of the upcoming improvements to the Hospital de la Familia. Nothing has been completed yet, but they have some big plans to improve services for local residents and medical tourists alike. I’ll write more when I have the rest of the details.
I also had a chance to catch up with Dr. Horatio Ham (Bariatric surgeon) and Alejandro Ballestereos (Anesthesia). Dr. Ham reports that Dr. Abril’s radio show has been revived as an internet radio program.
Sadly, Dr. Alberto Aceves, a well-known Mexicali bariatric surgeon died in a private plane crash back in June.
My Mexicali dentist: Dr. Luis Israel Quintana
I don’t have dental insurance but I have a history of bruxism (grinding my teeth) so I am pretty fanatical about taking care of my teeth. I’ve written before about the difficulties in reporting on dental tourism, as well as my previous experiences with Dr. Quintana, so when my dentist at my last locum assignment gave me a work estimate for almost eight thousand dollars!*, I knew I needed to plan a trip to Mexicali before my next assignment.
I ended up having 12 fillings (no cavities but plenty of damage from grinding), as well as a root canal and a partial crown. He also made me a new night guard since my old one obviously wasn’t preventing ongoing damage. While several days in the dentist’s chair was no picnic, I had minimal discomfort and little damage to my wallet. All told, the bill was less than 1300. I still need some additional work, but the majority of my teeth are now taken care of. I don’t have to worry about having a dental emergency while I am working a contract.
Dr. Quintana also reminded me that his office accepts most American insurance plans – with no co-pays or other payment required.
* My initial estimate in Dallas only covered work on four teeth. The additional surface fillings were not included.
Story Update: Please be careful my friends!
Some readers may remember the sad story that I received from a childless couple last year. The couple had contracted with Planet Hospital for surrogacy services after receiving devastating news on the birth of their only child. The child had been born with a terminal disease (the child later died). The couple also learned that due to a rare (and previously undetected) genetic condition, it was likely that any future children would also contract this disease. The couple had started a blog to document their journey into surrogacy, but after several months, it devolved into a story of deception, with the couple being defrauded of thousands and thousands of dollars by one of Planet Hospital’s contracted facilities.
Recently, Planet Hospital and their surrogacy scams made the front page of the print edition of The New York Times. The story by Tamar Lewin rips the mask off of Rudy Rupak, the shyster I told you about previously. (I also wrote about his shady transplant tourism practices at the Examiner.com back in 2012).
Surprisingly, the “Medical Travel Quality Alliance,” a branch of the MTA that advocates for “self-regulation” of the medical tourism industry only seems to partially condemn the practice of tourism surrogacy and Rudy Rupak in their latest publications and newsletter. Of course, anyone with even a few years experience covering medical tourism remembers that Rudy Rupak was the poster child for the medical tourism industry for many years, even after the first rumors of shady business practices emerged in 2010. Mr. Rupak has since filed for bankrupcy, but knowing of some of the deals Planet Hospital was involved in, I think he should be in prison.
Your story of the dental experience was very encouraging. The Americanpatient in your photo was very handsome.
You write: the “Medical Travel Quality Alliance,” a branch of the MTA that advocates for “self-regulation” …
MTQUA is not a branch of the MTA and is not connected in any way at all with MTA. The mission of the Medical Travel Quality Alliance is to promote excellence in quality of treatment and care for medical tourists because medical tourists are not ordinary patients.
MTQUA does not advocate for “self-regulation”.
Then why don’t you tell us how exactly you are advocating for patient safety? At a recent medical tourism conference (Mexicali 2013), members of the MTA were representing themselves as being responsible for your work. (I am sorry I don’t recall the individual names and other specifics). They also outlined a self-regulation process when asked about promoting patient safety. However, I would be glad to write more about your organization and how it hopes to address issues in medical tourism – since our mission is the same – promoting and advocating for safe medical travel.