Luis Navarrete
Director General
Clínica de Mérida
View from the Top

First of Its Kind

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:45

Q: What motivated Clínica de Mérida to establish its practice?

A: In Yucatan, when we started 50 percent of the population was not enrolled in IMSS, ISSSTE, or any other governmental plan. Nevertheless, private healthcare costs were prohibitively high, so our clinic was a sound option for this demographic. The construction of the Clínica de Mérida hospital began in 1961, and completed in 1964. The project was the vision of a group of doctors led by Arturo Ponce G. Cantón, who raised the funds for the clinic.

In its 52 years of operations, none of the 200 partners in the clinic have taken dividends, making it a completely non- profit organization. The clinic was the first of its kind to reinvest profits into operations and technology. Moreover, medical professionals were given the opportunity to develop their skills and gain experience while offering a more affordable price for their services. At the time of construction, no other private institution offered the same specializations for doctors and adhered to world-class standards. Today, we see between 600-700 patients and carry out around 400 surgeries per month, 50 percent being outpatient surgeries. This equates to around 55 occupied beds per day. About 42 percent of our patients are funded through a third party, including insurance companies, bank loans, the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán or other institutions that offer healthcare.

Q: Aside from price, what attracts patients to Clínica de Mérida instead of its competitors?

A: We have 65 SensAble beds, another 35 standard beds, a staff of 120 doctors, and a great deal of technology such as an ECT machine, hemodynamics systems and tomography machines. We can carry out laparoscopy surgery, heart surgery, transplants, ultrasounds, and invasive radiology, among other procedures. We also have a top of the line laboratory to test all our samples. Doctors have a great deal of input into our hospital’s management. Instead of competing with surrounding hospitals, we consider ourselves part of a healthcare network. If a treatment costs less in another institution, we will provide this information to the patient.

Q: What is the main demographic you treat, and how are you able to support them economically?

A: About 70 percent of our patients come from the Yucatan peninsula, but we also get business from South American countries and other states within Mexico. Although there are other hospitals in Merida, our size, expertise and mentality make the Clínica de Mérida stand out. Patients come from all over the peninsula, including Playa del Carmen Cancun, and even Cozumel, reaching us by boat. This speaks volumes about our service.

The dominating demographic is the middle to lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, but we also cater to higher income sectors. Patients often seek a second opinion from Clínica de Mérida on more complex diseases such as cancer. We help the lower socio-economic classes with a third-party payment we offer, which reduces the stress related to financing treatment.

Q: How are you encouraging medical tourism from countries such as Canada, the US and South America?

A: We see few medical tourists from Canada and the US, although the number of Canadians, some of whom own vacation homes in Mexico, has been increasing. Few of our patients travel especially for health services but when they visit family or their holiday homes they see local services as a reliable option. People also are increasingly coming to the Yucatan peninsula for six months or more, so it is only natural that in that time they would require healthcare.

Q: How do you plan to develop Clínica de Mérida in the short term?

A: As the city grows, the traffic and transport links become more complex, complicating travel for some residents to reach the Clínica de Mérida. We intend to expand to the north of the city. There are also plans to establish units outside of the city. A laboratory in Motul is currently being built and also we aim to expand to Valladolid and other rural towns. Limited logistics options mean that we are unlikely to establish more hospitals but rather implement units to support rural communities.