One of the first questions asked by most Americans and Canadians
considering life in the Lake Chapala area is, "How good are the doctors
At the Lakeside, we have five 24-hour clinics and the Red Cross, all
prepared to handle most medical emergencies. Most clinics have resident
physicians as well as visiting specialists from Guadalajara who hold
regular office hours:
Clinica Ajijic: Accepts U.S. insurance policies.
Phone: 766-0500; located on the Carreterra #33 in Ajijic
Mascaras Clinic: Provides ambulance service.
Accepts U.S. insurance policies.
Phone: 765-4805; located in Riberas del Pilar between Ajijic and
San Andres Clinic: Accepts U.S. Insurance policies.
Phone: 766-0812; located at Paseo Del Lago in upper La Floresta,
Sanitario Santa Teresita:
Phone: 763-0008; located at Miguel Arana 253, in Jocotopec
Clinica Maria Auxiliadora:
Phone: 013-763-1088; located on Morelos Ote. in Jocotepec
Phone: 765-2308; located on Avenida Gonzalez Gallo in Chapala
The first three clinics own their own ambulances. The Red Cross has
three well-equipped mobile units, and is the only facility allowed by
Mexican law to attend victims of accidents. The Red Cross ambulances
have been specially equipped for cardiac response from money raised
largely by the local foreign community.
The local clinics are prepared to handle most emergencies and to
stabilize more urgent cases until they can be moved to a Guadalajara
hospital, one hour away. Hospitals in Guadalajara rival the best north
of the border. They are clean and boast up-to-date equipment. However,
the hospitals expect patients to be accompanied by a friend, relative
or hired attendant/translator to provide personal care and to assist
with baths and meals. Generally, there's an extra bed available in the
room for this aide.
I've spoken with friends who've had strokes, heart attacks, hip
replacements and even appendicitis treated in Mexican facilities. The
general consensus is that the care is loving and of exceptional
quality. To Mexicans, people aren't just an insurance claim form; they
are patients and are treated very well. An older friend of mine
returning from her second hip replacement in two years received a kiss
on the cheek from the ambulance attendant who recognized her from the
Medical Care, Chiropractic and Alternative Care
In addition to the many physicians practicing at the Lakeside,
specialists from Guadalajara visit the local clinics weekly on
specified days and hours. We are lucky to have several naturopathic,
chiropractic and homeopathic doctors as well as acupuncturists,
practitioners of alternative medicine, and physical therapists.
Just like any town or city back home, there are as many opinions as
people giving them regarding which hospital, doctor or dentist is the
best…or the worst. People are regaled with all sorts of stories
at cocktail parties: from the successes of open heart surgery to
routine hip and knee replacements to ambulances that have a flat tire
on the way to the hospital. As is true everywhere, you need to do your
own research. Talk to friends and neighbors. Get recommendations, then
speak with the doctors and determine who the best caregivers are for
your particular needs before you need them.
Purchasing medications is very different in Mexico than in the United
States or Canada. Here, all medications except controlled substances
and narcotics can be purchased without a prescription. Patients are
expected to pursue follow-up care with their physician and to avoid
Some drugs are much cheaper here, others more expensive. It depends
on how long a drug has been in production, if the drug is imported or
produced in Mexico, and whether or not it is available in generic
Many of the local pharmacies employ English-speaking staff and have
a cross-reference directory of English and Spanish names for the
medications. Because Mexican law requires that a medical doctor own all
pharmacies, there will often be a doctor in the pharmacy, ready to
check your blood pressure, give you a shot, write a prescription when
needed, or consult with you about your symptoms.
Nursing Homes and Live-In Care
I wouldn't hesitate, if it became necessary, to place a loved one in
the nursing homes here. They are administered and staffed by
compassionate people who maintain a bright and clean environment. And,
of course, they're much less expensive than anything you could find
north of the border. Residents have the opportunity to spend time
outside year round, and are treated as respected members of the
Full-time live-in care is available at a very reasonable cost, and
without the legal restrictions you might find back home. These helpers
can range from registered nurses to loving older Mexican women who have
spent their lives caring for family members. A few foreign residents
also provide full or part-time live-in services to supplement their
Paid subscribers may submit specific questions on drugs or
medical care to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generally, you can expect a 48-hour response.