Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital will reopen its maternity ward sometime in the next couple of months, offering rebuilt rooms, new beds and a luxury environment designed to attract and retain patients.

Chairman of the hospital’s five-member board Dr. Yaron Rado, part of the consortium that acquired the hospital in March 2016 from founder Dr. Steve Tomlinson, said that complex administrative, licensing and design requirements had deferred earlier opening dates, but administrators were hoping for a March inauguration.

“We’ve been working on this since last year,” he said. “When we took over, eight out of 10 questions people asked were ‘when will you reopen the maternity ward?’ If you’d asked me, say, four months ago, I would have thought Jan. 1, but these things take time; there are a lot of administrative steps.”

The hospital closed its maternity ward in December 2013, citing soaring malpractice-insurance costs. Private practitioners cited annual hikes as high as $100,640 annually, bringing total costs to $292,255 per year.

Dr. Rado said that costs had not changed significantly, but demand had escalated and the rebuilt facilities meant the hospital could charge slightly higher rates.

“We have three or four dedicated rooms – in exactly the same location as the old maternity ward. We have completely rebuilt the place. At the moment there are two ‘birthing beds,’ where, when your water breaks and the baby is coming, [the bed] can split in half.

“There are ‘sleeper beds’ for husbands. The place looks like a hotel room,” he said.

As far as economics, he said, “maternity wards all over the world generally do not make any money,” but if Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital can provide top-grade service in a luxury setting, patients will return for their wider healthcare needs.

“We hope to educate people,” he added. “If they have had good service, they’ll come to us and we can establish lifelong strategies. In Cayman, we have a population of predominately healthy young people, and one of the highest birth rates [regionally].”

If that healthy couple has had a satisfactory maternity experience, he says, “well, typically 80 percent of decisions about doctors and medical care are made by women,” boosting the hospital’s “lifelong-care strategy.”

The forecast, Dr. Rado says, is that renewed maternity services are “an investment in the future of the whole hospital.”

According to Cayman’s June 2016 Compendium of Statistics, 2015 saw 649 “live births,” 2014 saw 711 and 2013, 705.

The Cayman Islands Hospital handles many of those – estimates range widely from 50 percent to 90 percent – augmented by private practitioners. When the hospital closed its maternity ward three years ago, Dr. Tomlinson estimated the facility handled between 120 births and 130 births annually.

The Compendium, published by the Office of Economics and Statistics Office, in 2015 registered two midwives and 35 registered nurses/midwives.

Dr. Rado pegged investment in the re-opened ward “roughly, in the neighborhood” of $500,000, involving “new midwives, a whole new set-up, and we’ve redone all the rooms.”

The ward, he said, had been inspected, approved and licensed by the Health Practices Commission.

Ministry of Health Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn said she had been “advised by the Department of Health Regulatory Services that an application was received from CTMH seeking approval to reopen the maternity ward.

“The inspection,” she said, “was conducted at CTMH and approval granted at a meeting held Monday, Feb. 6, by the Health Practice Commission,” based on “standards required by the National Guidelines for Health Care Facilities.”

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