Tag Archives: doctor

Dr. Quiroz – Huatulco’s Go-To Practitioner

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 drmaqt@hotmail.com

Private Medical Services in Huatulco

By Randy Jackson

Like so many regular winter visitors to Huatulco, I’ve strolled countless times along the sidewalks and the tree-lined pedestrian walkway of Boulevard Chahue. Shopping and errands so often have my sandaled feet swishing me along while taxis toot, traffic zips, and grackles whistle and “eak.” Sometimes though, a shadow crosses this lighthearted perambulation when I pass the IMSS hospital (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social). At such times I am reminded of the phrase, “whistling past the graveyard.”

No doubt this phrase can be interpreted in different ways. For me the meaning is a humorous depiction of a particular human condition – that of nervously ignoring the inevitable. The thing I have been nervously ignoring for too long is the inevitable need of having to use medical services here. But finally, I have resisted the gravitational pull of procrastination, and set out to obtain the information I would need to access medical services in Huatulco.

More specifically, I am interested in private medical services in Huatulco. Mexico has public health services, like the IMSS social insurance system and its hospitals, but for foreigners (like me), it is the private medical services you would need to access. I am happy to share the results of my investigation, which, to be clear, is not a comprehensive review of the private medical services in Huatulco, but rather one person’s findings when seeking to answer three questions:

(1) What are some of the private medical facilities available?
(2) How does one access private medical services?
(3) What do you do in a medical emergency?

Private Medical Facilities and Services – Clinics:

There are numerous private medical clinics in Huatulco. At the most basic level, some pharmacies have a doctor available for consultation. A consultation by a physician at one of these pharmacies costs 50 pesos. There are other charges if needed, like to have your blood pressure taken (20 pesos), or to have your ears cleaned (55 pesos). As inexpensive as these consultations are, I think it is safe to say they do not represent the best of what Mexican medical schools can produce. There is a high turnover of doctors at these locations, and I understand that part of their remuneration is a commission on prescriptions, which typically includes vitamins. Do not expect that English will be spoken at these facilities.

Another private clinic I noticed in my investigation was Medico en Casa. These are clinics where you call a central number (call center), or use their website (contact details below) and set up an appointment to meet a doctor at one of the clinic locations, or have the doctor come to your home (as any doctor at any clinic will). These clinics are part of the Hospital San Miguel enterprise, discussed below.

There are numerous stand-alone private medical clinics around Huatulco. As private medicine is a competitive business, however, clinics come and go. One example is the very modern looking Clínica Médica Integral (across from Casa Pepe), which has closed, after having only been open for business for six months.

I interviewed doctors at two private clinics that have been in Huatulco for some years, Dr. Ricardo Antonio Carrillo at Medico Quirúrgica Huatulco, and Dr. Angel Juárez at Clínica del Ángel (contact details below). One question I posed to each of them: if they would recommend tourists/snowbirds establish themselves as clients with their clinics for easier future access. In both cases the response was, “No es necesario.” Keep in mind the vast majority of foreigners will have, and want to have, primary medical care in their home countries. So most doctor visits here are for more urgent medical needs, rather than longer term health management.

Private Medical Facilities and Services – Hospitals:

In Huatulco, all private hospitals are also clinics, and some private clinics are also hospitals. By this I mean, at the two private hospitals I investigated, they are also set up for general clinical consultation. They advertise this, and have access to a full range of specialists that can be seen there. In the case of Dr. Carrillo at Medico Quirúrgica, he has an operating room and a two-room hospital with 24/7 care when required.

There are two more traditional hospitals, which from my perspective are fully equipped medical facilities, open 24/7, with a doctor on the premises and the ability to handle medical emergencies or medical procedures at any time. These are Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco and Clínica Hospitalaria San Miguel (contact details below). It should be noted that although there is emergency care at both of these hospitals, as of this date, there is no intensive care unit (ICU) at any facility in Huatulco (private or public). However this will apparently be addressed. Oromed will have their ICU completed in 2022, and San Miguel is planning to build one.

Medical Specialists

Huatulco is well served by a wide range of medical specialists operating privately. Of note; although many specialists have full time practices here, others visit Huatulco to see patients on a regular basis. Although no referral is necessary, an appointment with a specialist is most easily set up through a clinic or hospital. To get a sense of the breadth of the specializations available in Huatulco, here is a partial list of the specialists I have seen listed at Clínica del Ángel and Oromed:

Physiotherapy, radiology, plastic surgery, pediatrics, neurology, gastroenterology, cardiology, urology, orthopedic surgery, gynecology

How to Access Private Medical Services

Excluding the walk-in pharmacy consultations, you need to phone first for an appointment to access a private medical clinic. Normally you can make an appointment for the same day, or the doctor will come to your home for a higher fee. At the two private hospitals, you can just show up and wait to see a doctor.

There are, of course, a number of other clinics throughout La Crucecita and Santa Cruz. There are online directories of medical facilities in Huatulco, although they are not necessarily complete or up to date; in general, these sites will let you click through to the web page of the facilities they list.

Guia Medical: http://www.guiamedical.com
Directorios Mexico: http://www.directoriosmexico.net

Here is the contact information for the clinics and hospitals I visited.

Dr. Ricardo Carrillo, Medico Quirúrgica Huatulco: This is a clinic with an operating room and hospital rooms available as needed.
Phone: 958-587-6055 (Ph/Whatsapp); receptionist: 958-587-0600
Location: Sabali 403, La Crucecita
Language: English and Spanish
Fees: Consultation fee: $100 USD at clinic, $150 USD home visit, $250 USD home night visit. Credit cards accepted.

Dr. Angel Juárez, Clínica del Ángel: This clinic has a number of doctors and consultations are available with numerous specialists.
Phone: 958-587-1630 (landline); emergencies: 229-109-8375 (Ph/Whatsapp); receptionist: 958-109-6721
Location: on Blvd Chahue across from Cruz Roja).
Website: http://www.medicadelangel.com (The website lists all medical specialties.)
Language: Dr. Juárez speaks English; doctors or specialists with the clinic may or may not speak English.
Fees: A standard consultation fee is 500 pesos at the clinic, 1,000 pesos for a home visit. Credit cards accepted.

Medico en Casa: This is a call center for medical referrals operated by the San Miguel clinic. Once you have made contact, you ask to see a doctor at one of the clinic locations (Santa Cruz, San Miguel Hospital [Sector I], , or Sectors U2 or H3), or have the doctor come to your home.
Phone: 958-117-4029, 958-186-4825
Facebook Page: medicoencasaintegral
Language: The call center has English speakers available, although you will probably have to wait on hold for English service (my experience).
Fees: A standard consultation fee is 400 pesos, although it will vary depending on location. Credit cards accepted.

Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco: A full-service clinic and hospital with emergency service and a doctor and nurse on staff 24/7. X-Ray, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Operating Room, full list of consulting specialists. All doctors and a paramedic I interviewed recommended Oromed as their preferred private hospital for Huatulco because it has the highest standards of professional medical services.
Phone: 958-121-4104 (Ph/Whatsapp)
Location: Behind Marina Park Plaza in Chahue near the Municipal building
Languages: Some English is spoken, depending on the person you are dealing with.
Fees: A standard clinical consultation is 500 pesos. There are fees for all additional services. Credit cards are accepted.

Clínica Hospitalaria San Miguel: A full-service clinic and hospital with emergency service and a doctor and nurse on staff 24/7. X-Ray, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Operating Room, full list of consulting specialists.
Phone: 958-112-1473 (Ph/Whatsapp)
Location: Blvd Chahue, turn at Goodyear Tire, go two blocks
Languages: Some English is spoken, depending on the person you are dealing with.
Fees: A standard clinical consultation is 500 Pesos. There are fees for all additional services. Credit cards are accepted.

What to Do in a Medical Emergency

Huatulco has a 911 emergency call service. There is a call center for the coastal area of Oaxaca, including Huatulco. Do not expect that any English will be spoken by the call center operator. In my interviews with doctors, I was told that a 911 response is slow (although ‘slow’ was not quantified).

As a result, I personally would prioritize my response in this order:

FIRST: If at all possible, drive the patient or get a cab to Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco.

SECOND: Call a physician for an emergency home visit. The physician will assess the situation and arrange an ambulance if required.

THIRD: Call 911, when the ambulance arrives tell the paramedic to go to Oromed Hospital.

Note: Cruz Roja is a private, or at least it is not part of the public, medical service in Huatulco (and in Mexico overall). They can be accessed by phoning 911 or directly at 958-587-1188. Do not expect any English will be spoken. Cruz Roja responds to about 25 – 30 calls a month in Huatulco. They have 4 ambulances, a private, fee-for-services clinic, and a doctor on call. Cruz Roja is staffed 24/7 by volunteer, fully qualified paramedics. There is no cost for ambulance emergency response with a paramedic. You will be taken to the hospital of your choice.

Other Notes on Private Medical Services in Huatulco

Travel Insurance: As of March 2022, there doesn’t seem to be any private medical service in Huatulco that would be paid directly by foreign travel insurance companies. In my case, with travel medical insurance purchased in Canada, I could be reimbursed for my out-of-pocket medical costs IF I had first phoned the 1-800 number to clear the expense with the insurance company. I would then have to submit a receipt to the insurance company for reimbursement.

Medical Evacuation Insurance: Available for Huatulco through commercial providers. You would need to make these arrangements in advance of any emergency; policies are complicated, some do not offer much, and there can be age restrictions. Research required.

Air Ambulance Service: Available in Huatulco. It is arranged by a doctor. Both Dr. Carrillo and Dr. Juárez have arranged air ambulance transfers. The cost for an air ambulance to Mexico City – where there are world class private hospitals – is currently about $10,000 USD. It is my understanding that the cost for an air ambulance, i.e., medical evacuation, to the USA or Canada would be substantially higher, in the $50-60,000 USD range. The ambulance transfer cost to the Huatulco airport is currently 5,000 pesos. There will also be a cost for the doctor to arrange the transfer.

Thinking Ahead: Before visiting a doctor, I would recommend that you write down the Spanish words for the symptoms experienced. Also (you might want to practice this), using Google translate on your phone, you can touch the microphone symbol and speak in English – this will be translated to Spanish text.

In summary, I have found that Huatulco has private medical services for substantially all medical needs. Also, there is no shortage of capacity, so the services can be accessed with little or no waiting (remember to always call first). We have all heard stories from the United States of outrageous hospital charges, but that is not the case in Huatulco or in Mexico overall. Costs for virtually any private medical service are most likely easily affordable for most foreigners visiting Huatulco.