Joseph Ostroski, general surgeon long known to people in Cayman, is finding new ways to help patients as the physician liaison for Baptist Health South Florida.
The doctor works with non-Miami resident patients and their referring physicians to help them find their way through the health care system.
‘Many people from the Caribbean call on me for advice. Navigating the health care system can be very daunting. Number one, patients have to get to the right doctor. Number two they have to get the right studies done and number three they have to get the outcomes of the studies sent back to their physicians.
‘Hopefully, we encourage the physicians here (in Miami) who might see someone who’s here for diagnostic problems to communicate with the Cayman physicians so there’s not an information void,’ he said.
Helping overseas patients in this way is nothing new to the doctor, who also specialises in diseases of the breast. He no longer operates but continues to maintain an active medical licence in Miami.
‘At my office practice, I have anywhere from 12 to 15 consultations a week and I may get another 10 to 15 consultations over the phone or by email,’ he said.
Acting as a physician liaison fits in perfectly with Dr. Ostroski’s work ethic.
‘It dovetails with what I normally do. It’s a carry-on with an official title of what I’ve been doing over the years. It’s just an extension of the things I like to do,’ Dr. Ostroski said.
He has been helping people in Cayman for 37 years, when patients from here first started seeing him at his Miami office. Dr. Ostroski has seen more than 3,000 Caymanian patients in Miami over those years.
Christine Sanders, general manager of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, spoke of his commitment to the islands.
‘He’s always there for everybody in Cayman. He goes out of his way to help you.
‘He’s developed relationships over the years with many people in Cayman. So even if the issue is out of his area of specialty, he will help people get what they need,’ she said.
The range of nationalities he has helped reads like a list from the United Nations.
‘Name a country and I’ve helped someone from that country. Just this past month, I’ve taken care of people from the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay,’ he said.
He received an honorary Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour at the Queen’s birthday celebration last year in recognition of his medical contributions to Cayman. This was the highest award ever given to a non-Caymanian.
Caymanian Judy Wight has known Dr. Ostroski for more than 20 years.
‘He just goes that extra mile for everybody. He makes you feel you are at your home away from home. There’s no one like him. He always wants to help Cayman. He always wants to donate his time,’ she said.
‘He often comes down to help the cancer society. He does it at his own expense. He leaves his busy practice to come down here.’
The doctor helps out any way he can, she added.
‘If someone needs to go to other appointments, he will go with them just to hold their hand.
‘He even goes to the airport to pick up his patients in Miami.
‘I don’t think there is any word in the dictionary to describe him because he is so unique,’ she said.
Dr. Ostroski has equally strong feelings for Cayman.
‘The people in Cayman are just such kind, generous, wonderful people. It was easy to develop that love affair and relationship since I first started visiting 37 years ago.
‘I really have an extended Caymanian family. It’s a very rewarding medical life that I’ve had courtesy of many, many, many Caymanians giving me the privilege of looking after them,’ he said.
Dr. Ostroski comes down to Cayman every couple of months.
‘I come here to visit, replenish my rum cake supply and see my adoptive families.’