Gracias… Gracias…

At the grand public hospital in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, the word GRACIAS (thank you) is writ large. As you approach this dazzling, three-year-old, state-run, university-affiliated, 500+-bed hospital, which provides state-of-the-art medical care to more than two million Guanajuato-state residents, you see the word before you enter the towering front lobby: Shoulder-high, stand-alone, metal letters G R A C I A S painted white and inscribed all over by appreciative patients wielding black Sharpies. Gracias… Gracias… Gracias…

Me, sitting on the C in GRACIAS last summer

I, too, added my hand-written note of gracias to this installation last summer after my successful skin cancer surgery there. And this week, when I returned to this hospital in Leon for routine tests, I lingered at the sign and meditated on it.

Front (partial) view of the hospital
The GRACIAS installation by the hospital’s front entrance

As I’ve written before ( ), courtesy is a linchpin in Mexican culture. Every human exchange here, it seems to me, includes words of appreciation and well wishes (“Gracias…  buen dia…”). So it hasn’t surprised me to see the beautiful, often-used word gracias standing like an indestructible work of art for all to see, admire, agree with, and respond to at this hospital.

Me, this week by the GRACIAS installation

Inside, the hospital hums with efficiency and cordiality. Flocks of young doctors and nurses, all seemingly under the age of thirty (this is a teaching hospital) and happy to be there, pass in the bright, wide hallways. Large groups of patients (each one with an accompanying friend or family member) in each of the hospital’s departments sit and wait patiently for their names to be called to see their respective specialist. Everyone is treated with care respect. No one pushes or grumbles. No one receives a bill.

Last week I wrote about the care I received at this hospital last summer ( ). I’m fortunate that in my lifetime I’ve had only a few occasions to be hospitalized, so my personal experience of hospital stays is slim. But I doubt that there is another hospital, especially in the States, quite like this one.

Just one of the hundreds of inscriptions: “Thank you for your dedication day to day”
Another: “Thank you for the attention I received. Blessings always”
The lower inscription reads: Thank you for saving my life. God will reward you”

Leaving the hospital this week, my Mexican friend and interpreter, Ramiro Gutierrez, gave me the final words for this WOW post: “Gracias Hospital de Leon de todo corazon!” (Thank you, Hospital General of Leon, with all my heart!”)