If you’re walking along the Chapala or Ajijic malecons and you collapse, or if you fall and break your wrist on a broken sidewalk, or if you suddenly feel an overwhelming nausea, just stop the next Mexican you see for help. These days, there’s a good chance he’s a doctor.
Lakeside has the highest concentration of retired North Americans anywhere in the world. The average age of gringos here is over 50 with many well into their 60s and 70s. So what seems to have happened is that (by my fluid, sophisticated math) lakeside has attracted a higher percentage of physicians, dentists and medical specialists of every kind, relative to population, than anywhere in Mexico. And this influx of geriatric immigrants drags along with it a diverse medical record of just about every possible human physical disorder or the potential for such, including some we get from cats.
Ten years ago there might have been three or maybe four medical practitioners living and working at lakeside. If you had anything like a serious illness, you had to go to Guadalajara for specialty care and treatment. Or, you had to call a bruja. Today, there are now almost as many doctors available here as there are abarrotes stores. And some will have an office right across the street from you. Some will even come to your home. Some will remember your name and the fact that you still have your tonsils.
Granted, many have their original offices in Guadalajara and come here only certain days of the week, but they can still be available for emergencies. Or they will have eager assistants on location.
Test it. Go outside, and shout, “Is there a doctor en la calle?” There’s a good chance a corps of young, well-trained physicians will appear. Well, maybe not, but someone will see that you get medical attention and back home with proper meds, and they may even check your cat. (I have always suspected that doughty, hard-working Mexican man roving lakeside selling hats was an ear, nose and throat man without borders.)
As lakeside residents age, the more competitive the demand becomes. And the more massive the supply. This plentitude of medical practitioners and medical facilities, recently including cosmetic surgeons as well, means it’s now easier to get bypass surgery than have your car radio fixed. Lakeside has become more of a wellness center than a vacation community, and the inevitable competition will emerge.
As such, promotions might begin to read: Bring your osteoarthritis, your arrhythmia, your migraines, your forgetfulness, your hypochondria, your annual check-ups and your forgetfulness (did I mention that already?). They may even go to “two for one” offers: Bring your tennis elbow and we’ll throw in a free lung x-ray and a Bimbo snack. Free market competition. What’s also nice is that you’ll find longer waiting lines in the Walmart “Express” payout than at your clinic. (That is, when there is an “Express” payout.)
After all is said and done, the doctor invasion here will be an incredible enrichment and an outstanding attraction for more North Americans, especially with Mexican universal health care also available. Now, the question is, with all the growing traffic, will ambulances ever be able to overtake the fleets of Coca Cola trucks?