We are taught to think of hospitals as big places with myriad wings, departments, and people buzzing everywhere. If it’s bigger, it must have more technology, so therefore it must be better. For 42 years CEM “Centro de Especialidades Médicas del Sureste” has challenged this prejudice by creating an intimate hospital environment coached by a small, complete team of socially and emotionally conscious specialists.


Honoring most U.S. insurance providers, CEM offers free enrollment, no deductibles and no out-of-pocket expenses. General Director and acclaimed surgeon, Dr. Álvaro Quijano, claims that the challenge of CEM is to “think globally while acting locally.” He pushes his team to make efficient changes as science evolves, one of the many benefits of being a part of a small hospital.


This private hospital takes an anthropological approach to medicine, seeking to understand the why behind recurring diseases. Sub-Director of Medicine, Dr. Cuauhtémoc Sánchez says, “Before, doctors were the owners of patients and their illnesses, but we are turning that control over to the patients.” CEM has a balanced focus: attention to the needs of their individual patients, as well as a commitment to researching the big picture of medicine, impacting the global and national landscapes of medicine. Think: holistic—a place where illness never becomes isolated in a specific department. CEM is unique, because a complementary team of doctors offer their perspectives to the treatment of each patient.


Complete with a new center for dialysis, internal specialists, heart surgeon, maternity ward, neonatal experts, and in-depth experience in diabetes prevention and management, CEM is a single body with many extremities. One of CEM’s greatest innovations is its use of the hyperbaric chamber, inspired by Dr. Cuauhtémoc’s experience working with scuba-related injuries, which they now use to treat infections, nerve damage, and diabetes-related issues, among others. The staff oversees the hyperbaric chamber from inside their office of Internal Medicine, shattering the doctor-patient boundary.


Sitting across from me, Dr. Cuauhtémoc emphasizes the hospital’s dedication to the resolution of global issues which the United Nations has labeled as priorities 15, 30, and 50 years into the future: the increasing threat of mental illness and depression, a future without water.


Despite a propensity for technical jargon, the doctors at CEM also speak in a human tone (both in English and Spanish), which is how they connect with patients. Dr. Cuauhtémoc reminds me, “The body is not a machine,” and talks about how working with the mentality of the patient is just as important as any medical intervention. Medicine is curious, because it’s “equal parts technique and magic.” The staff at CEM change their patients’ attitudes by accompanying them in their treatment and emphasizing, “We don’t cure the body, but the soul.”


Then, on queue as if we were seated in front of a live television audience, a patient’s husband enters the office and with palpable enthusiasm exclaims, “This place is remarkable.” Dr. Cuauhtémoc shakes the man’s hand and pats him on the shoulder, and the man explains to me that his wife might have lost her leg, had it not been for the ingenious results of the hyperbaric chamber. Happy to help, the staff smiles with pride and continues working until late in the night.


Centro de Especialidades Médicas del Sureste
Calle 60 #329 B
entre 35 y Av. Colón.
Mérida Yucatán
CP. 97000
Tel: (999) 920 40 40
[email protected]


By Amanda Strickland

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