Ecuador provides public and private healthcare options. Most "gringos" opt for the private because of the significant increase in care, without a similar price increase. They report superb treatment for pennies on the dollar to what they would pay in the States. Does the U.S. have superior equipment, training, standards, etc. I'm sure. However, if you can't afford it - it doesn't really matter!
Healthcare is the number one reason that Ecuador is one of (if not the) top "retire abroad" location in the world right now. At every "gringo" night or hang out we hear stories of incredible experiences with Ecuador’s health care system, which have far surpassed my spoiled, first-world expectations. The number ONE comment made in celebration of the healthcare here is always the TIME spent with the doctors themselves, and the genuine feeling of being cared for, not just treated. All of the people who have told us stories about their experiences here have spent decades in the healthcare systems of the USA or Canada – both of which are excellent. To hear these “experienced” patients rave about the cleanliness, quality of care, and love for their doctors is quite a testimony.
The small office was spotless, at least until we tracked in mud from the rainy, dirty sidewalks outside, and we were professionally welcomed. There was no receptionist; the doctor/dentist did everything. Not only that, but she spoke enough English that the language barrier was little problem! On our way in I had explained to Geoff that he needed to go first, while I tried to work up my courage. Well, she didn’t ask for volunteers, just led me back as soon as our paperwork was complete. Great.
I was seated in familiar looking dentist chair and received the best teeth cleaning I’ve ever had. NOT exaggerating. She spent almost an hour with me, talking about every detail of my teeth, giving a full exam and cleaning, even doing a brief whitening treatment that was not expected. Every tool used, and each step of the exam/cleaning (except the few extra measures) were familiar to routine dental work I’d received in the States. My teeth have never felt so clean, and I have never received such attentive care or learned so much about my teeth/mouth and how to better care for them – and I’ve had really good dentists in the past! The difference was the amount of TIME spent, as I echo many grateful gringos who’ve praised this service before me.
Geoff received the same care, plus a little more due to the wisdom teeth, and she confirmed that they needed to come out soon. Problem, we return to the States in just over 2 weeks. She doesn’t do “surgeries” at her simple office, but called a recommended dentist in Guayaquil for us, set up the appointment for MONDAY, and made sure we had all the information we needed. Did I mention she did all this herself?
When we decided to go to the dentist we were prepared for a “cultural experience.” We looked forward to engaging the culture through the healthcare system, as we had in many other ways, even if it was “less” than we could allow ourselves in the States. Instead, we received first-class care, rapid service, and time and attention that surpassed any previous experience. The only evidence of the experience to remind me that I was in Ecuador and not the States was the bill. We paid less than our previous dental insurance co-pay, even in Montanita which is always more expensive than standard Ecuador.
Though getting 2 wisdom teeth pulled, and commuting to/from Guayaquil, wasn’t at the top of list of things to do during our last two weeks in Ecuador, we are so thankful for the opportunity to receive this care – and be able to afford it! We’ll let you know how that experience goes! We'll be heading to Guayaquil in the morning for Geoff's 2 o'clock appointment, unless I get too stressed out about him being in a surgery of any kind and refuse to go. Please be praying for safe travels and for Geoff to recover quickly because we still have lots of experience to fit into our final days here before heading back to the States in almost TWO WEEKS!