"It’s been exactly 1 year and 2 days since my Duodenal Switch surgery with Dr. Esquerra and Mexicali Bariatric Center (MBC). My surgery was 5\23\18. I have purposefully put off writing this review until now in order to give a totally objective response about my experience with Dr. Esquerra and MBC. Too many reviews are written just after surgery when emotions are running extremely high or extremely low, which skews the review. Now who wants to trust that kind of review? Not me.
Before choosing MBC I did a lot of research on them, their doctors, and Hospital Almater. To be honest, for MBC, I just read the reviews here and over on Realself. For me, I was more concerned with the ability of the surgeon, and the actual hospital. In doing my research, I enlisted the help of a very close friend of mine, who has an extensive medical background. She was a neuro-thoracic\orthopedic surgical nurse who retired from the US NAVY after commanding an entire US Naval Hospital in Puerto Rico. After her retirement, she went on to work and teach for the CDC in Atlanta. She is now retired from the CDC, but still keeps her certificates and training updated. She also asked to come with me so she could “take care of me”. Lol She’s is such a Mom to me!!! Oh, my sister also came with me.
Anyway, so this is what I learned in my research. Dr. Esquerra works out of 2 private hospitals: Hospital Almater in Mexicali and CIMA Hospital Hermosillo in Sonora, Mexico, a Joint Commissioned International hospital( https://cimahermosillo.com/es/acerca-de.html https://cimahermosillo.com/es/personal-medico/category/cirugia-bariatrica.html ) and He teaches bariatric and laparoscopic at CIMA Hospital (http://www.mexicalibariatric.com/dr-antonio-esquerra/ ) and was a trauma surgeon before becoming a bariatric surgeon (https://www.obesityhelp.com/profiles/bariatric-surgeon/antonio-esquerra/ ). What this told me of his ability is that if he works and teaches bariatric surgery in a JCI accredited hospital (even though Hospital Almater isn’t JCI but still holds to the same standards as JCI per the Mexican government) he must know what he is doing… And the fact that he was a trauma surgeon before becoming a bariatric surgeon told me that he would know what to do if problems arose while on the operating table.
As for Hospital Almater, I learned that it has its own trauma/emergency center, ICU, and its own private blood bank (though when just looking at the website again today it is no longer listed, but I actually saw it while I was there) ( http://www.almaterhospital.com/our-facilities/ ).
Unfortunately, I did not research the credentials of the anesthesiologist. I know that I should have. I forgot and just assumed that he was legit since MBC, Dr. Esquerra, and Hospital Almater all were. Turns out that, yes, he was legit.
Now on to my actual experience... Was it perfect? No. But is anything ever totally perfect? Was it beyond excellent over all? Absolutely YES!
From the moment I contacted MBC by email, Nina, the coordinator, was totally on the ball. Everything I needed or questions I had, she provided and did so promptly. Their system of pre-op preparations were spot on.
Ernesto, the driver, picked us up in San Diego at our hotel and drove us to Mexicali. It took about an hour and a half, and most of the trip was through California. The desert was pretty cool and the rock formations were incredible. Ernesto is also a weight loss patient and he is happy to share it with you. He was also a wealth of random information… Not that he talked our heads off, but he would interject really cool facts about the landscape, the border situation, and just other really cool information. He is an all around nice man and drives very well. He is paid by MBC and we didn’t know if we needed to tip him, but we did. We didn’t know how much was appropriate but we paid him $20 total for both ways. Ernesto, if we tipped you too much…enjoy…if we short changed you….. sorry… we just didn’t know better and it wasn’t a reflection on your service.
When we arrived at Hospital Almater I was quickly whisked away to the potty for a urine sample (which was great as I really had to go) and then for blood work and an EKG. The nurse who drew my blood was incredible and it actually didn’t hurt much, if any. All the while my friend is watching and taking mental notes. She said the EKG machine was a little outdated from what is used in the States by about 10-20 years, BUT that it didn’t matter in its purpose and was just as reliable. After the pre-op stuff, I met with Dr. Campos and he answered a lot of my questions. He was very kind and easy going and such a cutie-pa-tootie (though not nearly as handsome as my own hubby… sorry Doc. C). The pic on the MBC website is outdated and really doesn’t do him justice… just sayin’… Oh, and he, too, is a weight loss patient.
After the pre-op stuff, we were taken back to the hotel. It was a really nice place. That afternoon we ate at one of its 3 restaurants. The food was a little pricey, but I will say, the ribeye steak I shared with my sister was the best I’ve ever had anywhere. I don’t know if it was because it was the first solid thing I’d had in several days or that is was just that good. All I know is that for my ‘last meal’ it was the bomb. So, I bet you are reading and thinking, ‘huh’? Yes, Dr. C let me have a small, reasonable, last meal…. It was a total surprise to me, too.
The morning of surgery, Ernesto came and picked us up... like really early (6 or 7ish). When I arrived at the hospital they did the typical check in stuff and I met the anesthesiologist. And then I waited… and waited… and waited… and then waited even more. I was the only patient Dr. Esquerra had so I didn’t understand why the delay. First, I was told it would be around 9am, and then it was noon. Okay, I can handle that. Maybe he had an emergency of some kind? Then when I asked what the delay was they told me it would be after 3pm as Dr. Esquerra was flying in. I was a little frustrated with this lack of communication. (OK, I was really frustrated.) I would have been fine if they had just told me all this early that morning. The unknown-to-me delays caused me a ton of anxiety of when I’d finally be going back. My sister and friend also were hungry and wanted to go get something to eat but didn’t feel comfortable in leaving me in case they came to get me while they were gone. So, between 3-4pm, I met with DR. Esquerra, who by the way was also very nice and kind and then they wheeled me back. I was parked just outside the OR and could hear the doctors and nurses all talking and scrubbing in. I could also smell the bleach they used for cleaning whatever they cleaned. The next thing I know, I was getting on the table and the nurse was wrapping my legs in ace bandages. Then, I remember waking up in my hospital bed and it was all over. I’m sure I woke up in recovery, I just don’t remember it. Lol
My care in the hospital was excellent in every way. Every worker from the cleaning ladies to the doctors all seemed to love their job and they did it with pride. I will also say that Hospital Almater is the cleanest hospital I have EVER been in…ever!!! The nurses didn’t come in and probe me every hour or so like they do in the States, which made recovering so much better. Yet, when I needed them, they always came right away. Most of them spoke English and for the ones who didn’t, I used my Spanish (I speak it as a 2nd language). Even if you don’t speak Spanish, though, they tend to understand what you need. They were wonderful! Dr. Campos also came in once or twice a day to check in on me and so did Dr. Esquerra and even some of the other surgeons and staff from MBC. All of them were so wonderful. Remember my friend who came with me? With all her expertise and experience, she was very impressed with MBC, the hospital, and the doctors.
Upon returning to the States, I’ve had no complications and when I’ve had questions, I’ve emailed Nina and she has answered them. I’ve had blood work drawn a couple of times to check my vitamin levels and Dr. Campos has worked with me on getting them back on track. Nothing major.
Here are some random thoughts:
The pillows at the hospital are lumpy. Bring your own. There is a mall and a Wal-mart-ish kind of store nearby and your support person can use Uber to take them there to get one or just shop. And the mattress isn’t that comfortable, just deal with it. Lol. Prepare your support person that you will have a Smurf blue mouth when you get out of surgery (from the leak test while on the OR table) and you will look like death warmed over…. Freaked my sister out, but my friend totally expected it and really comforted my sister. Lol. Also, you will pee Smurf blue the first few times. That was pretty cool. Oh, and when you have your first dye leak test while conscience, you will never want to drink apple juice again (not telling you why, lol, be knowingly surprised). The last leak test with the Barium, is nothing compared to the dye test… much easier. Lol. The food in the hospital café is incredible from what my sister and friend told me. Walk walk walk after surgery, breathe breathe breathe, and sip sip sip like they tell you. You will be glad you did. And one of the biggest things, be amazed at the differences in the way things are done there (the healthcare philosophy) and how cost effective the hospital is. I found it wonderful that ‘old school’ was still popular…ie, when cleaning the iv port or skin before giving a pain shot, they used a simple cotton ball and alcohol (in the States, I find the prepackaged alcohol wipes such a waste of money.) or the IV pole… it was a simple pole that didn’t have that annoying ‘beeping’ machine on it (my friend noticed that as she also liked it better). Enjoy your relaxing recovery time in the hospital as you won’t get as great of care or length of care in the States. And know that you are in great hands!!!!
Over all, my experience was amazing and I now have my life back. My highest weight was on April 22, 2018 at 247.5LBS. On May 23, 2018, the date of my surgery I weighed 228.0 LBS. At 5ft 2in, my personal goal weight was 125LBS and I made my goal on 4/3/2019. Today, I’m holding steady at around 122.5LBS to about 124.0LBS. I pray that this review helps anyone on their journey. May God bless each of you. XOXOXOXOXO!