An Island’s medical history on display

Faith Hospital has only been open
since 1972, but Cayman Brac has a much longer medical history than that.

Inside the Cayman Brac Museum is a
display that recalls the people who have played a part in looking after the
health of Brackers for many decades.

If Islanders had a toothache,
bellyache, a wound that required stitching or were in need of medication, they
turned to dispensers, appointed by the government on all three Islands from the
early 1900s.

There was also a heavy reliance of
medicinal plants and herbs to cure many ailments.

On the Brac, one long-serving
dispenser, Lawford Lawrence, is fondly remembered. In 2007, a marble headstone
was unveiled in his honour at the Creek cemetery.

Dispenser Lawrence arrived from
Jamaica in 1936 to run a dispensary, becoming the Island’s de facto doctor,
dentist, pharmacist and counsellor until 1974.

At the museum, details and a
photograph of him and his dispensary sits side by side with others who played
their part in treating the people of Cayman Brac.

On display is an early operating
table that manages to look small and fragile, but sturdy at the same time.

Dental instruments now rusted and
quite scary looking are also on view.

Lisa McFarland at the museum
explained that those were used by sea captain Edwin Walton who carried the
instruments in his pocket and whipped them out when they were needed.

According to a 1917 report, 75 per
cent of the population had false teeth because of scurvy, due to a lack of
vitamin C.

The museum also focuses on the work
of the Faith Hospital and its dedicated staff.

Among the medical memorabilia are
photographs of the nurses and doctors who have treated patients throughout the
hospital’s almost four decades.

There is also a display featuring
the first use of anaesthesia on the Island in the 1970s, when three children
all suffering from appendicitis were admitted to the hospital one after the
other on the same weekend.

Resident doctor Mohammed Shibli
carried out the surgeries, putting the girls under general anaesthetic.

The exhibit is housed in the
museum’s extension and contains the history of the hospital as well as information
on medical records, mid-wives, and traditional medicine cures.


Past and present medical staff from Faith Hospital.
Photo: Photo: Submitted