By Gloria Palazzo
About two weeks ago, I needed help. Pain and bleeding. Not something you can take lightly. I decided to put it off one more night. Maybe it would go away the same way it started. Put off going to the doctor and poof it’s gone. Not so lucky this time. By the next morning I knew something was wrong.
I have belonged to IMSS since coming to Guadalajara 4 1/2 years ago. Some of the horror stories made me cringe, but I didn’t have any other health insurance. I wouldn’t depend on IMSS for everything, but I understood that they would pick me up, even if it was with a shovel, if ever I was left unconscious or injured while traveling any place in Mexico. I decided that this was the perfect time to give IMSS the test.
As I was preparing to go to the emergency room, showering, dressing warmly and loosely, taking enough pesos to feel I could cover whatever was needed, I remembered my last visit to an emergency room in Los Angeles. They wouldn’t talk to me if I didn’t give them a credit card. I was not in that emergency room 30 minutes and the cost was more than $500.00. That did not include three expensive prescription medicines.
When I wanted to return to Guadalajara, I called to ask the doctor if I could safely take a plane. Whoever answered the phone told me they would not give that information and that I should find another doctor nearby to get that information. Not wanting to spend another $500.00, I made the decision on my own. While traveling home to Guadalajara, I remember thinking how cold and uncaring that experience was.
Well, we got to the IMSS Hospital Emergency room and I was ushered in immediately. My Spanish is less than mediocre and these folk labored to speak English so I could understand. If one of them couldn’t speak English, they tried to find someone who could. Sometimes we just communicated in Spanglish, but I felt cared for. By afternoon, I was in surgery, after a sonogram (with a full explanation) and the deed was done. In all, I spent 1 1/2 days in the hospital and was kept comfortable and felt safe. In no way does this IMSS hospital compare to the sterile and icy feelings I have experienced visiting patients in the U.S.
I would not hesitate to use these services again and that the best of care can sometimes be a smile, a genuine, “How do you feel?” or just to know someone is looking over you. Relatives or friends can and do spend nights with patients.
Because I slept next to an unscreened open window, I had mosquito bites on my forehead, the only place sticking out of the covers that night. The bathroom was down the hall, and I had to stop at the nurse’s desk to get toilet paper before using the bathroom. I had to wiggle my way down the hall with this adult diaper contraption because it was not attached to anything, and if I didn’t wiggle, I’d loose it.
I smiled as I left the next day, saying my thanks many times over. The inconveniences seemed trivial compared with the services. And none of this cost me an extra single peso!