On call in Cayman

Doctors from overseas have been travelling to the Cayman Islands to treat patients through the Health Services Authority for more than 20 years.

A roster of visiting doctors serves the Cayman Islands Hospital on a monthly basis, offering various specialties, which are not available on Grand Cayman.

Before the visiting-doctor service was established, people were referred overseas to specialists, an expensive and time-consuming exercise for both patients and families.

Mr. Caswell Walford, public relations officer for the HSA, explained the advantages of this system.

‘With all of the availability of visiting specialists on our healthcare team, patients are able to make savings in the cost of their care as well as time away from work, and have the benefit of on-going family support during their treatment,’ he said.

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital has been using visiting doctors for four years, with specialists coming from the US and Jamaica, the same countries that supply doctors for CIH.

Two doctors are usually on-island each month at CTMH, staying for up to about 10 days at a time. On the roster now are Dr. Jimmy Brown, ear, nose and throat; Dr. Roger Irvine, cardiothoracic surgeon; Dr. Joel Slutsky, urologist; Dr. Brooks McKenzie, ob-gyn, specialising in menopause management; Dr. Tony Jackson, plastic surgeon; Dr. William Bookwalter III, neurosurgeon; and Dr. Frank Pallares, cardiologist.

Mr. Walford could not supply the same information for CIH.

Cost for the doctors seeing patients at CTMH ranges from CI$125-$150, with follow-ups charged CI$100, according to Judy Ebanks, human resources manager at the hospital. The doctors at CTMH each see from 15 to 20 patients during their visit. The HSA would not provide comparable figures.

Ms Ebanks is enthusiastic about the doctors that come to Cayman.

‘It is a very positive thing. I just wish we could find more specialists to come here. We gain in service from this programme. It’s good for the island,’ she said.

Ms Ebanks added that demand has been good for this service and it is an advantage for patients not to have to go overseas to see these doctors.

All of the visiting specialists who serve CTMH pay their own airfare and hotel bills, with the hospital paying for the work permits, she explained. In addition, the doctors pay the annual fee to renew their Cayman medical licences.

In addition to the visiting doctors now serving CTMH, the hospital is looking to recruit a neurologist and rheumatologist, Ms Ebanks said.

The HSA arranges for the airfare, accommodation and certain expenses for the visiting doctors at CIH.

‘Many of our visiting specialists have had a long association with the Cayman Islands and in most cases have been providing service for more than 10 years to our patients, who speak highly of their expertise,’ Mr. Walford said.