More than 800 people attended the sixth annual Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference last week, titled “Embracing Emerging Trends.” Conference organizers gave particular attention to palliative care, mental health and new technologies.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told conference goers at the kickoff on the first night of the three-day event, “We wonder sometimes if these conferences make a difference.” He said they did, and following the 2013 conference on healthy workplaces, the civil service started its run-walk club and the Deputy Governor’s 5K road race, along with a number of other health initiatives for government workers.
Premier Alden McLaughlin told the crowd assembled at The Ritz-Carlton conference center that the workshops and sessions from the conference directly result in recommendations for the Health Services Authority and government.
Mr. McLaughlin, an avid cyclist with a weekly workout routine, followed up on the deputy governor’s comments about a healthy civil service with a joke on some in his own government: “My great challenge now is to get a couple of my ministers to learn.”
The conference audience also heard from Caymanian athlete Cydonie Mothersill on how an innovative treatment had helped get her back on her feet.
Shortly before the 2012 London Olympic Games, Ms. Mothersill went to a clinic in Cayman to receive a new treatment for problems with her Achilles tendon and other issues that kept her from performing at her best.
Doctors at Regenexx Cayman took Ms. Mothersill’s own stem cells from her bone marrow and injected them back into her, a new way to treat painful ailments like torn ligaments and bone fractures that will not heal on their own.
Ms. Mothersill got the treatment too late to get her back on the track for the 200-meter run in the 2012 Summer Olympics. But now, she told hundreds gathered for the Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference last week, the injuries have healed and she can run and play with her daughters.
“It seems a bit crazy, it seems a bit futuristic. But this worked,” she said during the second day of the conference, focused on emerging trends and new technologies.
The conference’s keynote speaker, architect James Moore with the Urban Land Institute, gave a talk about the role of design in helping people make healthy choices.
In the United States, Mr. Moore said, “Zip codes are a better predictor of health than genetic markers.” How communities are designed and what is available to the people who live there impacts physical and mental health.
For example, people will not walk if streets do not have sidewalks and feel safe, he said.
The premier said the keynote “is particularly timely to what my government is embarking on” with the redesign and revitalization effort for central George Town.
Mr. Moore said community planning could help people be healthier by providing safe sidewalks and bike lanes. Policymakers can also increase access to healthy foods and encourage people to get outside with parks, playgrounds and other amenities.
The conference took attendees from historic ideas of city design with new relevance to the latest advances in stem cell therapies happening here in Cayman.
Dr. Jamil Bashir, who is based in the U.S. but makes regular trips to Cayman to treat patients, presented on new stem cell treatments to treat torn ligaments and other skeletal and muscular issues, like the treatments Ms. Mothersill received.
These are not the embryonic stem cells that have caused so much ethical uproar in recent years, Dr. Bashir said. His company, locally called Regenexx Cayman, pulls stem cells from the patient’s hip and uses those to perform the procedure. “We use the body’s own capacity to heal itself,” he said.