International Patient Travels from Mexico for Heart Care at Scripps in San Diego

The Mexicali resident is grateful for lifesaving heart surgery

The Mexicali resident is grateful for lifesaving heart surgery

Though he lives in Mexicali, Mexico, Rodolfo Nelson-Culebro regularly travels to Scripps Health in San Diego for his health care. A Scripps patient since 1985, Rodolfo values the quality medical care he receives – and credits his Scripps physicians with saving his life nearly 20 years ago.


“In early 1998, I was sitting in my office and started feeling pain in my side, and it went up to my teeth,” he recalls. “It lasted about 15 or 20 seconds, and it came back every five to eight days.”

Scripps heart care specialists “saved my life”

Rodolfo consulted Scripps cardiologist Alan Johnson, MD, who has since retired. Dr. Johnson ordered an angiogram and found significant blockages in all of Rodolfo’s arteries ranging from 60 to 90 percent. Rodolfo had quadruple bypass surgery at Scripps in November of 1998, and believes his Scripps doctors saved his life.


“I’m a fisherman and was going to go on a trip to Australia in 1998,” he says. “If I had gone, I probably would not be here today.” In addition, Rodolfo says the lifesaving heart care he received at Scripps was also life-changing.


“I appreciate life more. I just had my 50th wedding anniversary with my wife, we had a party and we went on a trip with our children to New York. I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren,” he says.

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Spanish-speaking physicians enhance doctor-patient relationship

Rodolfo’s father had been coming to Scripps for care since the Scripps Clinic first opened on Prospect Street in La Jolla, and used to bring his son with him to appointments. Rodolfo says the good care his father received, along with Scripps’ reputation for excellence, influenced his decision to travel to Scripps from Mexico for his own care.


As an international patient, Rodolfo appreciates that his current Scripps cardiologist, Jorge Gonzalez, MD, shares his cultural background.


“I feel very comfortable with a Latin cardiologist because we talk in Spanish, and we have the same culture,” Rodolfo says. “I think it is very important for the relationship between doctor and patient.”

Convenient care for international patients

Rodolfo also likes that Scripps will coordinate his appointments with multiple physicians, such as his cardiologist, dermatologist and ophthalmologist, so that he can see them all in one place during a single trip across the border. 


“I have everything coordinated for me, and I get a confirmation of all of my appointments,” he says. “It’s easy to do all of my appointments here at Scripps. The doctors here are top of the line, and I hope they will keep me alive for many years to come.”