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Hip Replacement at Echauri Hospital, Manzanillo, Colima

by Greg Mason

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It was a great day!

The Moms were down for the fourth time, experienced now, and our motto is to try something new every time we are there. We went to the west beach of Melaque, to the La Sirenita Restaurant. The food was great, we were watching the vacationing Nationals, and decided to move along. Moving back to the car my Mom (Helen) changed her footing, and down she went. So embarrassed, she just wanted to get in the car and get out of there. Not so fast Mom. Help came over immediately to see what to do, and got Mom up on her feet, when she felt the pain. I could sense some difficulty moving her and we asked for medical assistance.

The restaurant called for emergency services, the police arrived first and attended, waiting for an ambulance to arrive and ascertain the problem. The ambulance arrived with a driver and 2 EMTs and since Mom was standing, just stood the backboard behind her back, and eased her onto it. I was obliged to accompany Mom to the nearest medical facility, which is in Melaque, ambulance backed in, Doctor came out for an examination, and just before dispatching us to the x-ray facility, gave Mom a shot of morphine. In 5 minutes we were being x-rayed and returned to the medical facility, where the Doctor looked at the x-ray and told us we were going to the Hospital in Manzanillo.

echauri (64K)
Centro Médico Quirúrgico Echauri, Manzanillo, Colima
By the time I got back into the ambulance, the EMTs had an IV started. Not knowing what came next, I threw the car keys to my wife Bonnie, and told her to go to Dra. Linda's office, while Mom and I continued to the Civil Hospital in Manzanillo. As we exited the ambulance, lo and behold there was our strata manager. He advised me that we had an option of staying with Civil, or going private, to the Echauri Hospital. We chose Echauri. The incident occurred at 3:00 pm, and it was now getting on to 6:00 pm, Friday night.

Armando stayed with us until the surgeon arrived, took x-rays, blood, questions and put Mom in a private room. Within the hour, the surgeon, who speaks very passable English, explained our options. One was to install a plate over the repair, and screw the plate to both sides of the injury, as, he explained, the hip did not break, the femur broke just below the hip, and the other option was to replace the hip entirely. On Saturday morning, we knew it should be the hip. But this was now Saturday morning, what to do now? The surgical repair would take 2 units of blood, and as there is no Red Cross Blood Bank in Mexico, the Hospitals manage their own supply with family donors. The blood was requisitioned from Civil Hospital, I had to personally go over and sign for it and transport it back to Echauri. I now had a blood debt, because the Hospital wanted blood in return, but not 1 for 1, 2 for 1. I was informed that 4 units were to be returned, and the donor profile was: under 45, male, non drinker, non drugs, good teeth. The surgery was then scheduled for 10:00 am Sunday morning. Dr. Edmundo Echauri Fletes, (father), Dr. Edmundo Echauri Marroquin (son) and Dr. Enrique (brother-in-law) were the attending Orthopedic Trauma surgeons.

Mom was returned to the room before 2:00 pm. They were very happy, and although a little overcome, so was I. The room was a standard hospital room, private, A/C, Sky satellite and a bathroom. We had room service, but before you could call, a nurse would show up with pain meds, BP machine, thermometer, bedpan and such. Having had a little experience with hospital care, I was noticing the differences. All the meds, vitamins etc. were administered by IV. The starched white nurses' uniforms and caps were a throwback to the past, except when a shower was required and they stripped down into surgical scrubs to accompany Mom into the shower, and changed back after. I know every nurses name, the cleaners names, the kitchen staff names, and of course most of the 8 family members (all Doctors).

I was using my computer outside the room, and a Doctor walked by and asked what kind of WI-FI signal I was getting, came over and looked at the feed. He agreed that the best signal was the Echauri Hospital signal. Responsibility of every person is what happens here, there are no "call this person" or "I'll find someone for you" people in the Hospital. When the father, Dr. Fletes came to put on the compression stockings for Mom, I asked if he knew his right from his left. His simple response was, I only know where the heel goes. I know he mountain bikes, almost daily, except, I remember seeing every surgeon every day in the Hospital.

The date of discharge was predicated on minimal production of fluid and removal of the drain shunt. This took 2 days longer due to the internal damage the femur end did to the surrounding muscle and tissue, and to ensure the body wrap to contain and compress the wound site was effective. The walking started Wednesday, with assistance and a walker. We all knew that unless Mom could navigate at least the main floor of Casa Kokopelli, she would not be able to go home, where there would be no assistance. Discharge was Friday afternoon, almost exactly to the minute of the accident the previous Friday. No more room service here, so we had a bell to ring, but by the following Thursday night, Mom had negotiated the bathroom and back in bed 3 times by herself. I knew because I had checked on her and saw the bedding had been disturbed. We nicknamed the walker Ayudar, as he would be her friend for a while.

By the time for flight came on Saturday, it was a relief, although we knew obstacles would appear before we walked through Mom's front door. US Air is not my favourite airline, however, the flight was direct to Phoenix, and a short hop home from there. The loading of a person not capable of climbing stairs is always an interesting affair, and sure enough, by the "time we get to Phoenix" they had forgotten what to do. So, we waited, about an hour, until finally, 3 US Customs and Border Patrol officers came onto the tarmac looking for us, sent by our waiting ride, my nephew. We could not leave until the special wheelchair was produced, the flight crew was livid, as they could not leave either. Finally, leaving the airport through the front doors, and there was the car parked, right in front.

The end of the story starts with Mom having to see an Orthopedic Surgeon, in Tucson to view the x-rays, the surgical site, and remove the single stitch. His interesting comment goes like this:

"I don't comment on Mexican doctors or surgeries, unless I see an exceptional degree of ability, as I see here", well, kind of a compliment. The final part was the 6 page detailed invoice, every piece of, part of, bandaid, medication and shampoo was listed, and my Visa Card tells me that this was done all in for less than $11K CDN, and the price alone for the prosthesis was about $4K CDN.

As I said to my staff here, if I fall, get sick or hurt, put me onto a plane for Manzanillo immediately.

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