Pediatric pioneer retires at 82

Dr. Shirley Cridland, one of Cayman’s best-known and most highly respected pediatricians, is retiring this month after 42 years of providing healthcare services to the children of Cayman.

She says she will miss seeing all the babies coming in and watching them grow into adulthood, but she is confident that Cayman has a formidable team of pediatricians on the island today to carry on the work.

“We now have a strong team of [pediatricians] on island. Before I came, there were one or two persons doing it but they were either leaving or left shortly after I arrived,” she said.

“They interact together, and I think that is very good …. The hospital has a really good pediatric group as well, I think the country is on a good course in pediatrics,” she said.

Dr. Cridland turned 82 in February. She said she is now looking forward to spending time with her family, just retiring and hanging out. “It’s been a long time, I would now just like to spend time with family and have nothing much to think about,” she told the Cayman Compass.

Dr. Cridland has two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.

Pediatric friends from government and the private sector hosted a retirement lunch for Dr. Cridland at Grand Old House on Thursday. “The pediatricians were all there, we had a nice time. It was very good of them,” said Dr. Cridland.

A longtime resident of Grand Cayman, Dr. Cridland opened the first pediatric clinic in Cayman in 1976 in the building of Dr. Edlin Merren on Hospital Road after moving from Jamaica with her family. In later years, she moved to 247 Smith Road in George Town, where she practiced up to her retirement.

During her professional career, Dr. Cridland got involved in many of the medical organizations on island.

She is a founding member of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society, part of the Cayman Heart Fund organization and has been instrumental in forming the Children’s Health Task Force.

Although she is not on the board these day, Dr. Cridland says she is impressed with what the Cayman Heart Fund continues to do, bringing awareness to the community about heart issues.

“Obesity was one of the things we were concerned about when we first started the Children’s Health Task Force,” she said, adding that the importance of good nutrition at an early age is now recognized in Cayman.

Back in 2013, the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society gave its first award to Dr. Cridland, for her years of service to the children of Cayman.

Born to parents John and Alice Clemetson in Kingston and raised in St. Mary parish, Dr. Cridland moved to St. Thomas with her family. She received her medical education in Jamaica and the United Kingdom.

She first got a taste for working in the medical field after she met several medical professionals while volunteering in a hurricane emergency clinic at age 15. She attended the University College of the West Indies Medical School from 1954 to 1960, did an internship at University Hospital of the West Indies and served as House Officer in pediatrics from 1961 to 1962.

Her post-graduate studies were done in the United Kingdom at Carshalton Hospital, Surrey, and the Institute of Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London.

When she returned from London in 1963, she married the late Bernard N. Cridland and had four children. She also served as medical officer in the Children’s Hospital in Kingston, and then held private practice in Kingston from 1972 to 1976.

She moved to the Cayman Islands in 1976, and started the first pediatric clinic here.

Between 1976 to 2012, she also worked in the Genetics Program in Cayman, documenting genetic disorders and counseling families. She held monthly clinics in East End and West Bay, visited the Lighthouse School and patients’ homes and worked closely with other physicians at the Health Services Authority.

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