Hospital dialysis unit expands, finds new permanent location

The Cayman Islands Hospital dialysis unit has finally found a permanent home after being relocated five times within the hospital. 

Now situated next to the foyer, the new unit boasts added space while also addressing the privacy concerns of patients. The unit houses 10 stations with two reserve units in the peritoneal dialysis and examination rooms. It also has two standard isolation rooms, doctors office, nurses station, staff lounge, lockers, bathroom and shower room.  

“We have lots more room but, most of all, a lot more privacy,” said dialysis patient Rupert McCoy. “The beds are not near together and it is generally more comfortable than it was in the old unit.” 

The Health Services Authority officially opened the new unit on Wednesday, Sept. 18. A moment of silence was observed for the late Dr. Frits Hendriks, a leading kidney specialist who assisted with the dialysis unit. Dr. Hendriks died Sept. 4. 

At the opening ceremony, Health Services Authority internist and nephrologist Dr. Nelson Iheonunekwu said the hospital’s main goal is to reduce patient load into the unit by focusing on prevention and early detection in an effort to stem the growing epidemic of chronic kidney disease. 

He said the number of dialysis patients in Cayman has dramatically increased during the past 15 years. In 1998, there were 10 dialysis patients; in 2012 there were 52. 

“Diabetes and hypertension are the major drivers of chronic kidney disease in the population and in other jurisdictions,” he said, noting early diagnosis of kidney disease offers an opportunity to slow the progression and sometimes reverse the disease. 

Still, transplant remains the best modality of renal replacement therapy and the hospital continues to encourage exit from the dialysis unit by offering early referral of eligible candidates for transplant evaluation, Dr. Iheonunekwu said. 

“It is our hope that when the human tissue transplant law is fully implemented and operational, our patients’ access to transplant is enhanced,” he said. 

At risk behavior 

Health Minister Osbourne Bodden highlighted Cayman’s at-risk population when it came to noncommunicable diseases. 

Last year, a healthy nation survey brought into focus a number of worrying statistics, he said.  

The survey identified several behavioral risk factors that people in Cayman were displaying that could be detrimental to their health and put them at increased risk of developing noncommunicable diseases. 

He said 15 percent of those studied smoked, with men twice as likely as women to smoke. Alcohol consumption was also high among men. The survey also showed that while most people consumed fruit and vegetables, the servings were well below the recommended five servings per day level. 

The risk factor survey also revealed that more than a third of all respondents reported no level of physical activity, while almost a fifth of all respondents reported moderate levels of physical activity. Additionally, more than a third of those surveyed were obese, more than 70 percent were overweight and more than 15 percent had raised blood pressure. 

Minister Bodden said the information garnered in the survey will be used in a plan to make the population healthier, noting several publicly funded programs, such as Be Fit Cayman, are already addressing the issue. Additionally, partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, such as the Cayman Heart Fund and Cayman Islands Cancer Society, are helping to educate and raise awareness. 


The dialysis unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital has moved to a new location within the hospital. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT