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Destination Spotlight

FAM Trip to Chihuahua Mexico~ The Lady of the Desert

Destination Spotlight

Chihuahua has the support, infrastructure and dedication to become one of the top Medical Tourism Destinations of Latin America. Derrell Connor from M3 insurance sums up this destination up by stating, “I was very impressed with both the medical facilities, as well as the historical sites that we visited in Chihuahua.

From the Cima Hospital to the Oncology Center to Copper Canyon, the entire experience was excellent. The doctors, nurses and staff were very professional and accommodating. It would certainly be a place that I would go to receive care, and feel comfortable doing so. I would recommend Chihuahua and Cima Hospital as a destination to my clients.”

The Medical Tourism Association was delighted to participate in the Familiarization “FAM” Tour in the beautiful country of Chihuahua, Mexico. Facilitators, Consultants and Insurance Companies from Canada and United States of America were in attendance. The broker companies in attendance included:

  • Surgical Trip
  • M3 Insurance Solutions
  • Medical Tourism Corporation
  • Debson Medical Tourism
  • MedVoy, Inc.
  • Global Benefit Options
  • ACCESS Global Healthcare

The trip included meetings with the Mayor, and Secretary of Tourism and Commerce, hospital tours and a day of tourism into Copper Canyon. Kemal Canlar from Global Benefit Options states, “The facilities we toured were immaculate and have an added benefit of geographical convenience to the US.”

The Secretary of Tourism and Commerce, Lic. Hector Valles Alvelais, along with all the sectors of government and tourism are in full support of the Medical Tourism Industry. As Mr. Valles quotes, “Medical Tourism is a priority.” The government has a strong interest and commitment in supporting Chihuahua in this industry.  

They understand the need to remain sensitive to international patients to help them adjust to the new culture. They are also working with American Airlines and Continental on more direct flights into Chihuahua, including one from Phoenix, Arizona, among other initiatives for tourism.

Chihuahua, Mexico

Chihuahua, located in Mexico, is the state’s capital. Its name derives from the Tarahumara language meaning “between two waters” or “dry and sandy place.” Founded on October 12, 1709, Chihuahua now has a population of almost 1 million.

Chihuahua lies on the western side of the Chihuahuan Desert and has a semi-arid climate, making it cooler than other portions of the desert at lower elevations. The average temperature is 18 degrees Celsius.

It is the twelfth largest city in Mexico and one of the most industrialized, complete with companies such as Ford Motor Company, Sumitomo Electrical and John Deere.  The city is the leading producer in minerals and zinc, and second in extracting silver. Chihuahua is also the main producer of apples and nuts in the country and a front runner in raising cattle and sheep. The city’s commercial sector has been boosted by the growth of the middle class. The nightlife in the city is lively, especially in the City Centre, where some of the pre-revolutionary estates have been turned into night spots and restaurants.

The culture in Chihuahua can still be found in some of its preserved monuments from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Temple of San Francisco, Federal Palace of Chihuahua (now a museum) and Museo Casa Juarez are among some of the most interesting places to visit.

The city is noted for its charming colonial architecture, integrated into a modern setting. Places of interest include the Metropolitan Cathedral, the resting place of St. Peter of Jesus Maldonado and the City Hall. If you want to see the city in its entirety, Trolley el Tarahumara, a bus that goes around to all the main museums and monuments in the City Centre, is offered.

In 1922, 20,000 Mennonites came to Mexico from Canada to settle on 247,000 acres of land in Chihuahua’s San Antonio Valley.  The city of Cuauhtemoc, which is located 65 miles west of Chihuahua, is occupied by 50,000 Mennonites today. They are best known for their fine cheeses and apple orchards. There is a great variety of regional and international cuisine throughout Chihuahua full of new and familiar flavors.

Medical City

Chihuahua Medical City is a strategy that brings together the top hospitals and clinics in the city of Chihuahua Mexico. Their mission is “to provide high-quality healthcare and travel services to both the domestic and international market, integrating the value chain sectors.”

Their hospitals offer the latest state-of-the-art technology available in order guarantee service and quality. Their domestic and international accreditation certifies their medical staff and the hospital services they provide. Helen Cosburn from ACCESS Global Health states, “Not only does Chihuahua Medical City have state-of-the-art infrastructure and highly skilled medical staff, they have also developed a comprehensive medical tourism program with a strong focus on the details.

This attention to detail has created a patient-centered model that focuses on the patient’s overall experience. This strategic focus will drive Chihuahua Medical City to build a very successful and sustainable medical tourism program that will attract patients from around the world. Chihuahua puts the hospitality in healthcare!”

CIMA Chihuahua

CIMA is an international healthcare center that uses technologically advanced equipment, providing prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for the well-being of the regional, national and international communities in an environment of excellence, dignified treatment, ethics and efficiency that meets the needs of our patients while pursuing competitiveness, profitability and organizational permanence.

CIMA is in the process of JCI Accreditation and expect to be accredited by the summer of 2010. They currently have certification of the ISO9001:2000, amongst others. Today, they have 158 physicians in their medical staff towers, specializing in 40 different areas of medicine.

CIMA has grown to 75 hospital beds, 6 intensive care beds, 2 additional ORs, a 126-office tower, heliport and plans to expand with the addition of 25 beds and 20 medical offices this year. Tracy Nicholas from Medvoy states, “Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality of doctors and facilities in Chihuahua.  

The fact that there are 150 physicians who are business partners in CIMA Chihuahua and also practice medicine at that hospital underscores the cluster’s overall dedication to providing high-quality medicine.”

Clinca Cumbres

Clinica Cumbres healthcare organization specializes in high quality, safe outpatient services for patients at competitive prices with the support of advanced technology, the latest management systems and maintaining international operating standards recognized by international certification entities.

They have 11 patient beds and specialize in Plastic Surgery, Obesity, Assisted Reproduction, Angiology, Orthopedics and more. They are certified by the Mexican General Health Board and by the Joint Commission International.

Centro Oncologico de Chihuahua

The Chihuahua Oncology Center started operations in November 2008, bringing together the experience of CIMA and the Southwest Oncology Center, one of the most prestigious cancer centers in the United States. TomoTherapy is an accurate, fast, safe and comfortable technology for cancer patients.

It’s an image-guided radiation therapy that allows physicians to see the exact position and size of the tumor in real time before starting treatment. The core values of The Chihuahua Oncology Center include Medical and Professional ethics, respect for the patient, human quality and teamwork.

Traveling to Mexico for Medical Tourism

Chihuahua City is a quiet cosmopolitan town, but has preserved the atmosphere and safety of a small community. In recent years, Mexico has become a popular destination for Medical Tourism, especially for American citizens, due to its close and convenient proximity to the US.  

With their formation of the cluster, Chihuahua provides creditability, accountability and dedication to providing high quality of healthcare to patients. There is a high rate of fluency of both English and Spanish, and like most Latin American countries, Mexico has an overall friendly and family oriented culture.

Flights are offered in abundance from the US and airfares are reasonable. If you live in Texas you even have the option to drive, as it is about a 3-hour drive from El Paso. One of the delegates on the FAM Tour, Deepak Datta, from Medical Tourism Corporation stated, “Highly impressive, Chihuahua Medical City is truly a cutting-edge, high quality affordable Healthcare cluster conveniently located two hours flight from Dallas, TX.”

Copper Canyon

Copper Canyon is one of the most popular tourism destinations when traveling to Chihuahua.  About a 3-hour ride, Copper Canyon is made up of a group of six distinct canyons located in the Sierra Tarahumara part of the state.  Home to 290 species of birds, 3,500 plants species and 400 wild medicinal plants, these exquisite canyons are longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States.

The most popular way to explore the canyon is by a 6-hour scenic train ride, via the Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railroad. Copper Canyon can also be explored by way of hiking, biking, driving or even by horseback.  The government is in the beginning phases of planning an international airport in Copper Canyon; a project taking an estimated 18 months to complete. This will allow access by train, plane or automobile. The traditional inhabitants are the Tarahumara people, who sell their handicrafts and unique homemade foods to visitors.

Chihuahua has the support, infrastructure and dedication to becoming one of the top Medical Tourism Destinations of Latin America. Derrell Connor from M3 insurance sums this destination up by stating, “I was very impressed with both the medical facilities, as well as the historical sites that we visited in Chihuahua.

From the Cima Hospital to the Oncology Center to Copper Canyon, the entire experience was excellent. The doctors, nurses and staff were very professional and accommodating. It would certainly be a place that I would go to receive care, and feel comfortable doing so. I would recommend Chihuahua and Cima Hospital as a destination to my clients.”

About the Author

Jessica Johnson is Director of Operations for the Medical Tourism Association. Jessica provides operational support for the MTA. Her responsibilities span the range of administrative, financial, operational and I/T support systems. She may be reached at or

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