Tomlinson outlines hospital plans

Ten years ago, Dr. Steve Tomlinson
set up Cayman’s first private hospital. A decade on, the Chrissie Tomlinson
Memorial Hospital continues to grow and expand its services.

In an interview with the Caymanian
Compass, Mr. Tomlinson outlined details of some of the new additions to the
hospital – both in innovative equipment and staff.

By the end of this year, he hopes
to have a 3 Tesla MRI in place. The hospital already has a 2 Tesla MRI, but Mr.
Tomlinson is looking forward to the arrival of the new equipment.

“There’s no better MRI in this part
of the world as far as resolution goes,” he said.

The hospital is also preparing to
welcome two new surgeons – orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Matthias Herzig and general
surgeon Dr. Darley Solomon are joining the team.

Mr. Tomlinson said the arrival of
Mr. Solomon back on Island from the United States would lessen his workload.
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years. It’s getting time to slow down a little,”
he said.

Mr. Solomon, who is from Cayman,
previously worked at the Cayman Island Hospital.

More cardiologists needed

A medical position in Cayman that
Mr. Tomlinson would like to see filled is a full-time cardiologist who could
cater to the many related problems seen on Island.

“We have two cardiologists who come
every month. They’ll be here again in the middle of August. That service has
really been embraced by the public, but the problem with having cardiologists
here just for a while is if somebody gets very ill now and they are not here.

The hospital’s existing cardiac
diagnostic services, like echocardiography that uses sound waves to diagnose
symptoms and a stress test treadmill, can identify patients who are at risk of
cardiac problems. The hospital’s radiography technician can send patients’
results to the cardiologists overseas who can examine them and make a

“We’re able to tell the patient
there and then if they have a problem that needs following up or that the
echocardiogram was normal,” Mr. Tomlinson said.

He believes that getting a cardiac
catheterisation laboratory in Cayman would make the island a more attractive
prospect for a full-time cardiologist. “If you’re highly specialised and not
extremely busy, you may lose your skills the longer you stay here, but there’s
a lot of work for cardiologists here. I think once we get a cardiac cath lab
here, they can do more intervention work and they will get enough experience on
a daily basis to keep their skills up,” he said.

During a catheterisation procedure,
a thin, flexible tube, or catheter, is inserted into an artery or vein in the
patient’s arm or leg and moved gently into the arteries or the heart. It can be
used as a diagnostic tool or as a form of treatment for coronary artery

Visiting oncologist on board

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial
Hospital also has a visiting oncologist, Theodore Turnquest, who comes to
Cayman every two weeks, and an oncology nurse who is on staff full time.

“The nurse administers the
chemotherapy and people can get the surgery they need here now. What is not
available here is radiation therapy,” Mr. Tomlinson said.

Neurosurgeon Dr. James Akinwunmi
has been coming to Chrissie Tomlinson for the past year, visiting once a month
for about 10 days and carrying out brain and spinal surgeries.

“He is doing great work,” said Mr.
Tomlinson. “I’m happy that James is coming here. He’s helping a lot of people,”
but he added; “It would be nice to have a neurosurgeon here all the time. What
happens when there’s a serious road traffic accident?”

Dr. Marc Kayem also works out of
Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital when he visits from Los Angeles. He is an
ear, nose and throat specialist and plastic surgeon.

He said Cayman needed more
specialists in several medical fields. “That is why people are going away for
treatment. It’s not to see a GP. The more specialists we have here, the fewer
people will go away and the more they will take advantage of what we have here.
Economically, that’s what we need,” he said.

In recent years, the hospital has
also expanded from its main Walkers Road site to set up a satellite clinic
based in the Countryside Shopping Centre in Savannah, where Mr. Tomlinson holds
consultations, sometimes for free for patients who cannot afford to pay.

The operating theatres of Chrissie
Tomlinson Hospital are filled with what Mr. Tomlinson described as a “United
Nations” of staff who have moved to Cayman from all over the world. They
perform more than 100 operations a month.

On a proposal by Indian heart
surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty to build a 2,000-bed medical tourism hospital, Mr.
Tomlinson said he wished that his hospital could get the same breaks and
concessions on import duties and work permit fees that the government offered
the newcomer. “I’d love to see us get the same breaks on import duty for
equipment… We have about 120 members of staff with most medical staff from
abroad. I’d be sure to pass on those savings to the patients, I’d be happy to
do that,” he said.

“We need a level playing field,” he


Dr. Steve Tomlinson at his Savannah clinic.
Photo: Norma Connolly