Cayman’s only privately owned hospital will no longer be operating its obstetrics wing by year’s end, according to Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital owner Dr. Steve Tomlinson.
“The board of directors and [Chrissie Tomlinson] management, in consultation with our obstetricians, have decided to close the obstetric wing of the [hospital], effective Dec. 31, 2013,” according to a statement sent to the Caymanian Compass from the hospital management. “This is to facilitate a major expansion of our surgery department.”
Although the Health City Cayman Islands complex is expected to open in late February in East End district, it is not believed the medical facility will offer obstetrical services. That leaves only the government-owned Cayman Islands Hospital, or individual private doctors providing those services.
Contacted by phone Wednesday, Dr. Tomlinson said the move was largely precipitated by financial considerations and a desire by hospital management to get into the more lucrative medical tourism business.
However, any doctors who wish to continue to deliver babies at Chrissie Tomlinson in 2014 may do so, assuming facilities are available for the deliveries and the doctors provide their own obstetric staff for the delivery procedure, officials said.
Gynecological services will still be offered by Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital in 2014, Dr. Tomlinson said.
There are currently about a half-dozen private physicians who provide obstetrical care on the islands, in addition to those who are employed at the publicly funded Health Services Authority.
In Cayman, according to the annual Compendium of Statistics, more than 700 “live” resident births are recorded each year. In 2010, there were 821 live births; in 2011, there were 800 births recorded, and in 2012 there were 759 recorded, according to the compendium.
Previous reports compiled by Caymanian Compass staff indicated that approximately half of the annual deliveries are at the Cayman Islands Hospital with public service obstetricians and midwives, and the other half are by private practitioners. However, that half-and-half estimate is somewhat misleading, since some private doctors use the public hospital facilities to deliver babies, depending on the patient’s wishes.
Dr. Tomlinson estimated there were, on average, 120 to 130 births at Chrissie Tomlinson annually.
Chrissie Tomlinson’s obstetrical wing will be replaced by two new operating rooms and a six-bed ambulatory surgical unit. The hospital will increase its number of operating rooms from two to four with the move. The expansion of the ambulatory surgical unit will also allow the hospital to improve its services and offer more services there, Dr. Tomlinson said.
“Our present operating suites will be renovated and upgraded,” the hospital statement read. “This expansion is necessary to accommodate the increased demand by resident and visiting surgical specialists.”
Dr. Tomlinson said the operating rooms will be used to perform advanced neurosurgical and orthopedic procedures.
“[Chrissie Tomlinson] is expanding its services to accommodate and attract international patients,” the hospital statement said. “Many procedures are approved in countries such as the United Kingdom, which have not as yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.
“These can be performed legally in Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands being a British Overseas Territory.”
The expansion is part of an overall plan to “give a facelift” to the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital. The upgrades include the purchase of an advanced health information system to improve hospital staff efficiency, officials said.
Dr. Tomlinson has previously denied, in advertisements taken out in the Compass, that his hospital was being sold to a group of private investors.