Dr. Helene Andersen recently joined the Cayman Islands Hospital as a resident urologist, enabling this specialist service to be available fulltime.
She is an experienced general surgeon and over the past 10 years has completed a specialist education in urology and has been practising in that field.
Dr. Andersen, who is Danish, joined the hospital 1 February on a two-year contract and has been seeing patients at the Speciality Clinic, twice-weekly for urology and twice-weekly for general surgery as well.
Previously, patients had to depend on visiting urologists who would be available once a month, or otherwise had to travel overseas for any urgent treatment.
‘There is a need to increase and improve the specialist service in the hospital and I’m a part of that aim to provide continued specialised service to the people of the Cayman Islands.
‘The visiting urologist will still come in and this will provide a choice for patients. It’s an expansion of the service and ensures its continued availability,’ she said.
Among the types of cases she treats are paediatric urology, prostate problems, urination problems and kidney stones, Dr. Andersen explained.
She also sees patients on the surgical ward.
‘There seems to be quite a number of patients with gallstones and ulcers. I’m very interested in all types of abdominal diseases and there has been a range of patients with various disorders,’ she said.
The combination of surgeon and urologist is unusual, she added.
‘I started out as a surgeon. I like the combination of having knowledge about diseases and being able to cure someone with your hands,’ Dr. Andersen explained.
She took a break from surgery from 1991-3 when she did a research fellowship resulting in a PhD, also an atypical step for a surgeon. The doctor then completed her surgical education which in Denmark also involves urology.
A well-respected doctor in Denmark supported and advised her along the way. He specialised in general surgery, vascular surgery and urology, and heads one of the larger university departments in Copenhagen, she explained. He was also the president of the Danish Surgical Society.
‘My mentor suggested I specialise in urology and he offered me a position that I accepted with a smile.
‘I’ve always been very grateful for that. He was right. He’s always been a great supporter of mine.’
From 1994-2001, Dr. Andersen was clinical associate professor of urology at the University of Copenhagen faculty of health sciences. She has also published 23 scientific papers in international medical journals and lectured in both Europe and the US.
‘As a doctor, you need to keep updated. There will always be new knowledge. With urology there is always so much new happening,’ she said.
She is already impressed with her colleagues after only a month at her job.
‘What I’ve found in the Cayman Islands is very fine teamwork among specialty doctors. They are very relaxed and open-minded which makes you feel very welcome,’ Dr. Andersen said.
The doctor and her family – her husband, who is a businessman and investment manager, her 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter – recently moved from New Zealand where they lived for five years.
She worked as a urologist at both the Auckland University Hospital and North Shore Hospital.
‘When we moved to New Zealand, we sold our house in Denmark. I felt if you’re living somewhere you should be there and not have a foot in each country,’ she said.
The same philosophy applied to the move to Cayman.
‘When we moved here, we moved with our family to make a commitment to contribute to the Cayman Islands with our skills, and experience the beauty of the country,’ Dr. Andersen said.
The doctor spoke of her enthusiasm for working in Cayman.
‘It’s like a fairy tale when you see the beaches and nature. And I’m really looking forward to expanding the urology service here,’ she said.