Because I’m 75 ,and Jack is 79 and has had some emergency health issues in the past, we decided it would be a good idea to check out the hospitals in our city. We read positive comments on-line about La Joya, which is the closest one to our house, and heard good things about the care our neighbor received there when she had an operation for a kidney stone just the other day. So we decided to visit La Joya first.
The hospital is an 8 minute cab ride from our house and is brand spanking new. Built only 6 months ago, the floor in the front lobby is sparkingly clean white marble, and the whole place is gorgeous, with large, beautiful patient rooms, modern new equipment, physicians who speak English, many of whom were trained in the US. If a patient needs a ride to the hospital, but isn’t in need of the kinds of care provided by an ambulance, there is a car that will pick him or her up at home and take her to the hospital, free of charge. There is a separate entrance and wing for Covid patients, with its own ICU unit, which was empty the day we visited and has been for the last two weeks. The employee giving the tour, the head of admissions, said that of the last 30 patients in that unit, 29 were ok when they were discharged. My Mexican friends say La Joya is “muy caro,” very expensive. For middle-class Mexicans, I am sure this is true, particularly when they are eligible for no cost access to healthcare and medicine provided by government departments, some hospitals and clinics. But in comparison to the cost of hospitalization in the US, a stay at la Joya is far less expensive. Our health insurance will reimburse us for emergency care, and la Joya is where we’ll go if there’s a need.
The empty covid unit at la Joya that we saw jives with the numbers that were reported in San Miguel news a few days ago. 0 new cases and 0 deaths. Why? Here, nearly every Mexican wears a mask. The issue hasn’t been politicized, and no one balks at the direction to wear one. On the whole, the people here are very community oriented. It is their natural response to think of others, and if masks can help stop their friends and neighbors from being infected and spreading the pandemic, they would never think to refuse to comply. For centuries Mexicans were so oppressed by both the government and the church that they were used to doing what they were told to do. It is not an individualistic society where everyone makes up his own rules. Some foreigners here have a different attitude. “I’m vaccinated, I don’t need to wear a mask,” they say, flaunting their bare faces. Even if science were in their favor, it is culturally rude to ignore the status quo of the country. And there are those who visit Mexico and just don’t believe in vaccines and ignore the signs and orders which tell people they can’t come in without their “coubrebocas,” just like some assholes in the U.S. We have not personally met those people, but have seen a few of them at some of the outdoor markets and have read about others online. But they are in the minority.
The city does whatever it can to take precautions. At every entrance to el Centro, the historic downtown district which caters to tourists, there are “sanitizing arches” that aim to help contain the spread of covid-19. With an investment of more than 3 million pesos, 37 sanitizing tunnels were installed in the municipality, spraying everyone who passes through with a very light spray of sanitizing liquid. The liquid is natural, extracted from the gratefriit seed its use effective against bacteria, fungi and yeasts in addition to being endorsed by the FDA. The health measures, including sanitizing mats at the entrance to stores and restaurants, were recognized by the World Travel and Tourism Council. It may be a futile attempt, but it is a relief to get away from the divisive and enraging battle that continues over care in the US. One more reason it’s a pleasure to be here.