Chemo unit officially opens in George Town

The Cayman Islands Hospital’s chemotherapy unit, once housed in a small concrete room with no windows, now has a state-of-the-art facility in its own building with garden views.

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society unveiled the new unit in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The new space – formerly occupied by the old Lighthouse School on Smith Road – doubles the number of people it can treat and gives chemotherapy patients a warmer, calmer environment.

Andrew Ward, one of three chemotherapy nurses at the hospital, said many cancer patients in Cayman have to go off island to receive the treatments. The new unit, with its added capacity, will allow more people to stay on Grand Cayman for treatment. “To be able to go home to their own bed after treatment is wonderful,” Mr. Ward said.

Chemotherapy is stressful enough, Mr. Ward said, but having to be separated from family and having the added expense of an extended overseas trip for weeks or months can make the situation even worse.

The new unit has four chairs for patients receiving treatment. Each station is equipped with a reclining chair, its own television, and a view of a small private garden. Mr. Ward was quick to point out the hardwood floor in the treatment area, explaining that all of the design features down to the floor are intended to help patients relax and feel comfortable.

The new unit is almost 1,000 square feet and includes private exam rooms and its own lab for testing blood samples and mixing chemotherapy drugs.

Dr. Gilian Warfe, who travels from Jamaica once a month to oversee treatments, said the old chemo unit was “very hectic, very distressing.”

“This is a huge change. It’s much more relaxing and the nurses can focus more,” Dr. Warfe said.

Cayman Islands Cancer Society board chair Donovan Bremmer said the purpose of the new unit is to make “chemo as comfortable as possible in the Cayman Islands.”

The Cancer Society raised the money for the facility from private donations, and the Cayman Islands Hospital donated the space adjacent to its main building.