Canadian Entrepreneur Launches Choice Medical Services, a Medical Tourism Firm Providing Healthcare Treatment in Cuba, Savings Up to 80 Percent Off U.S. Costs

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Choice Medical Services, a medical tourism company, has launched to assist North American patients in going to Cuba to access low-cost and safe medical care. Cuban health costs are up to 80 percent less than U.S. costs. US patients are primarily uninsured or underinsured and might otherwise be unable to afford treatment. Canadian patients want to avoid long wait times for medical care.

While filmmaker Michael Moore takes American patients to Cuba for medical care in his popular documentary film "Sicko" that criticizes the failing state of the U.S. healthcare industry, Daren Jorgenson, a Canadian entrepreneur, has gone a step beyond.

Jorgenson has launched Choice Medical Services (http://www.choicemedicalservices.com), a medical tourism company that assists North American patients in getting lower-cost healthcare services in Cuba.

"Our aim is to provide safe and affordable healthcare services and products for patients, regardless of their income and where they live," said Jorgenson. "We have visited Cuba several times to inspect the hospitals and clinics and meet with health professionals, and find their quality of care and high standards are comparable to those in Canada and the U.S."

Choice Medical Services has recently led nearly 200 patients to be treated in Cuba for conditions including hip and knee replacements, corneal transplants, dental implants, addictions treatment, retinitis pigmentosa, tummy tucks, breast reshaping, and MRIs and CT scans. These patients have ranged in age from 19 to 76 years, and most were either uninsured or underinsured or could not endure the long wait times.

"Our patients had 'smooth sailing' with their treatments in Cuba and there were zero problems," added Jorgenson. "Since we are partnered with the Cuban Health Ministry, we free our patients from having to worry about transportation needs, communications with the doctors, accommodations and other issues."

Bill Doran, Choice CEO, who just returned Saturday (Aug. 4) from a visit to Havana, said the company has been planning and researching the enterprise for more than one year. This included having top Canadian physicians visit Cuba on Choice's behalf to observe surgeries at the hospitals.

"The more I investigate the Cuban Healthcare system, the more I am convinced Cuba can deliver safe, effective and affordable healthcare to all North Americans," said Doran. "Patients who do not want to suffer long wait times or the excessive costs will find a very high level of care in Cuba. Cuba is truly an undiscovered treasure when it comes to healthcare and visitors will be pleasantly surprised."

Jorgenson Meets Michael Moore
Jorgenson met and personally spoke with Michael Moore, when they coincidentally were both returning from visits to Havana several months ago. For legal reasons, Jorgenson won't say where that conversation took place, but he added, "Michael was a very personable and down-to-earth guy. I told him about our new company, and he loved the idea."

Major Cost Savings         
The frequent waits for healthcare in Canada and exorbitant cost of U.S. medical treatment and hospitalization are among the key incentives drawing patients to Cuba. For example, in the U.S., a traditional hip replacement for one joint is CDN$63,000 (US$60,000), while in Cuba, the same procedure costs about CDN$8,000/US$7619 or more than an 80 percent savings.

Patients Are Pleased
One recent patient is "Earl," a 32-year old Winnipeg, Canada man who has been battling a cocaine addiction for more than 14 years. Through Choice, he traveled to Cuba this summer for an intensive two-month rehabilitation programme, and is pleased with the results so far.

"I was really scared at first, going to a strange country and all and not knowing what to expect, but I knew coke was killing me. It was a real intense and challenging program beyond belief, but soon I came to realize why I wanted to get high all the time," said Earl. "Those Cuban doctors are very professional and know what they're doing.. They taught me to put order in my life. The temptations are always there but I feel I can deal with them."    

Cuba's addictions treatment is world-renowned and focuses on both the drug abuse and the cause behind it. Earl had a lot of company, as his fellow rehab patients included people from Central and South America, Europe and Africa. In Canada, Earl has completed outpatient rehab treatment which was not effective. Earl's Cuban treatment cost CDN$12,000.00 (US$12,600) and Cuban hospitals boast an impressive 43 percent non-return rate two years after rehab.

Travel Issues
Jorgenson says Choice is mainly focused on serving Canadian patients, but that they are open to helping patients from the U.S. and other countries. Canadians can legally travel to Cuba without any restrictions, and there are daily flights between Toronto and Montreal to Havana. For Americans, he said they typically fly either from Toronto, Montreal or Cancun (Mexico) to Havana.

Since it is illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba in most cases, they will need to reach Havana via a third country, and Choice Medical Services will not counsel Americans on evading the law, although that's what many do. Cuban authorities do not stamp the passports of Americans in Cuba, to help prevent the U.S. government from learning about their visits.

Patient Prospects
To learn more about Choice Medical Services, consumers can visit its website at http://www.choicemedicalservices.com or call them toll-free at 1-866-672-8284. Prospective patients fill-out an online information form or, if calling, have one mailed to them for completion. A Choice Personal Patient Consultant (PPC) guides them through the entire registration process and a PPC is stationed in Havana to personally oversee their transportation, communications and other needs for patients and their accompanying family members. Or, write Choice Medical Services at 885 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2W 3P2. Choice also operates an office in Havana.

Privately owned Choice Medical Services will soon add more treatment destinations, including India, Canada and the United States. Jorgenson was mum on a timeline for when those markets will be operating.

A licensed Canadian pharmacist, Jorgenson also owns a number of Canadian healthcare companies. He is best known for his leading role in the late 1990s in establishing Canadameds.com and its affiliated Canadian pharmacies that continue to provide many Americans with easy access to affordable Canadian medications. Jorgenson leads the Jorgenson Group of Companies that operates medical clinics in under serviced areas of Canada. He views Choice as a logical extension of that business.    

Media Contact/Editor's Note:
Choice Medical Services can arrange for you to interview Daren Jorgenson and "Earl," the Canadian patient. And, we can arrange your visit to Cuba to do a story on the healthcare facilities and to meet North American patients as they are treated and their Cuban doctors.

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Michael Pirages, Pirages Communications
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