By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken
We first met Dr. Miguel Ángel Quiroz Tovar about twenty years ago. One day our family arrived in Huatulco to visit us from California, and our granddaughter, who was then six, spent the day diving to the bottom of the pool; by that evening she was holding her aching ear and crying. We called a Huatulco resident who had children around age 6 for advice, and within an hour Dr. Quiroz appeared at our condo. After a few perceptive questions and a quick check, Dr. Quiroz assured us that the pain was caused by air pressure in the plane followed by diving, which forced wax deep in our granddaughter’s ear. He said she needed to come to his office so he good irrigate the ear – assuring her that the procedure would not hurt and her ear would feel much better. Sure enough, when she returned from her office visit, she was her usual smiley self and so excited about having met Dr. Quiroz’s daughter who was exactly her age.
Since then, whenever we’ve had a medical problem while in Huatulco, Dr. Quiroz is generally the person we call. We are not alone. Virtually all the English-speaking residents we know in Huatulco have at one time or another paid him a visit for an ailment.
Miguel Ángel Quiroz Tovar was born and raised in Mexico City. He began learning English in primary school and continued advancing his language skills during his secondary education. He matriculated at the prestigious, highly selective National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) both as an undergraduate and in the School of Medicine where he completed his doctorate degree. His internship and residency, with a specialization in General Surgery, were carried out at the Centro Médico (Medical Center) of the IMSS (Mexican Institute of Social Security), a government agency that operates as part of the Mexican Secretariat of Health. He was awarded membership in the International Association of Surgeons in 1993.
Practicing at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City, he met and fell in love with a dentist who was also affiliated with the hospital, Patricia Jimenez Bader. Six months after they met, they married. She was originally from Oaxaca, and their wedding took place in Oaxaca City. The young couple traveled to Huatulco for their honeymoon and they found the area so attractive that they decided to return. In 1994 they both set up their practices here.
Huatulco at that time had a dearth of medical services. There was no hospital. And Dr. Quiroz performed the first surgery in the area. His practice rapidly grew, first with Mexican nationals and then, as tourism developed, with visitors and then foreigners who became permanent residents. Later the IMSS created a local hospital, and private clinics began to be established. Dr. Quiroz practiced in the local hospital for a number of years but has shifted his services entirely to private clinics.
Today, at the height of the tourist season, his practice consists of about 30% foreigners. Although he is certified as a surgeon, Quiroz’s first training as a general practitioner is constantly in use. About 60% of the problems that bring patients to his office are abdominal. Over the years, we’ve heard many reports from English-speaking friends about times when they self-diagnosed problems as simple “Montezuma’s revenge” only to become so ill they sought medical help from Dr. Quiroz, who of course realizes that diarrhea can be symptomatic of a host of diseases which must be diagnosed before targeted medication can be prescribed.
Two long-term members of the local English-speaking community credit “Dr. Q” with saving their lives in 2014. First the husband developed symptoms including chills as well as severe abdominal distress. He saw a doctor who medicated him and then left on vacation. His symptoms worsened, and his wife called Dr. Quiroz, who came over to their condo. When he arrived, the wife was also experiencing severe abdominal distress and shaking so vigorously from chills that she could barely talk. Dr Quiroz immediately admitted both of them to a clinic as inpatients and began rehydrating them intravenously. Their symptoms increased to the point that both of them were hallucinating. A round of tests didn’t prove conclusive and Dr. Quiroz told them that he would bring in a specialist and if that didn’t produce a diagnosis he would need to send them to a hospital in Mexico City. Fortunately, he and the specialist identified the problems as being caused by a specific amoeba that responded to medication. The couple are not only grateful for the medical care but also the kindness of Dr. Quiroz’s wife and children during the episode.
In additional to growing their practices, Dr. Quiroz and his wife also grew their family. They have two sons and a daughter. And he is very proud of all their accomplishments. But he seems most gratified by the success of his wife’s dental practice.
About four years ago, doctors in Huatulco organized as The Association of Doctors in Huatulco (Asociación de Médicos de Huatulco). Dr. Quiroz serves as president of the association. Together the doctors hold conferences, invite practitioners from other parts of the country for educational meetings, conduct community health promotion campaigns and provide informational talks on the local radio. The Association grew to include about 40 active members. But the need to respond to the COVID pandemic reduced active membership to about 12. Now that a major proportion of the population has been vaccinated, including almost all of Dr. Quiroz’s patients, the Association’s activities may be restored.
Dr. Quiroz relaxes when he has time by fishing. He enjoys spending time fishing with his sons, sometimes from the beach and sometimes from a boat. He is also an avid reader of historical fiction. The Journeyer (2010), Gary Jennings’ historical novel about Marco Polo, is one of his favorites. And he has read all six books about prehistoric life by Jean Auel.
We were fortunate to have met Dr. Quiroz so very long ago and to have watched his practice and medical services in Huatulco expand to the point where diagnosis and treatment of many diseases no longer require a trip to facilities in Mexico City. We are also amused by the coincidence that Dr. Quiroz’s daughter. whom our granddaughter met at age six, is now – like our granddaughter – in medical school.
Dr. Quiroz’s telephone number is 958 587 6628 and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org