Cayman: Healthcare ‘Express’ coming to George Town

By James Whittaker
A new urgent care medical center is opening in George Town, seeking to fill a gap in healthcare coverage in the Cayman Islands.

Doctors Express will be open extended hours and on weekends to provide care in non-emergency situations. It will offer on-the-spot consultations and treatment for injuries ranging from cuts and bites to broken bones.

Samuel Banks, a local attorney, is the Caymanian partner and co-founder of the business. His wife, Winnie Banks, MD, who also has a master’s in business administration, will manage the facility.

Mr. Banks said Doctors Express would fill a “critical gap” in Cayman’s health service between traditional doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms.

“Urgent Care is the fastest growing component of the U.S. healthcare system and it is something that we believe is badly needed in the Cayman Islands,” he said.
“Our aim is to bring a higher level of care and customer service to the industry, as well as transparent pricing and flexible opening hours suited to patients’ working lifestyles.”

The facility will be open until 9 p.m. seven days a week and will provide consultations without appointment, he said.

Mr. Banks said the aim is to have patients in and out within an hour, providing a swifter and more pleasant experience than a busy hospital emergency room.

A 5,000-square-foot building on Godfrey Nixon Way, which will be called the Doctors Express Medical Center, has been completely renovated to house the clinic. It includes eight exam rooms, in-house X-ray and lab services and a nurse’s station.

Mr. Banks said the facility was custom-designed to improve efficiency, reduce wait times and provide a comfortable and pleasant environment for patients. He said a growing number of visitors and residents are looking for quality of service that matches or exceeds what they are getting now.

“If consumers aren’t assured that Cayman has high-quality healthcare, they won’t choose it as a retirement or vacation spot,” he said.

Doctors Express will open in March, pending regulatory approval, with three doctors and six nurses on staff.

As patient volume increases, he said, it will expand to employ eight doctors and 16 nurses. Mr. Banks has partnered with a U.S. physicians group that runs similar facilities in the U.S., and will seek accreditation from the Joint Commission International, which accredits medical facilities around the world.

Mr. Banks said his desire is to hire as many qualified Caymanians as possible. But he acknowledged the facility will initially need to rely heavily on overseas staff because of a shortage of trained personnel locally.

“The issue is, there aren’t that many Caymanians in the medical field generally, and there are even fewer with the experience we need.”

Mr. Banks said he hopes the facility will play a part in changing that dynamic.

He believes healthcare will be a growth area for well-paying, resilient jobs in the Cayman Islands and is keen to see changes to legislation and regulatory guidelines to make that possible.

Currently, due to the Medical and Dental Council’s new guidelines, it is not possible for newly qualified Caymanian doctors to be licensed to work in the Cayman Islands without first working for three years overseas. He said that means that doctors who graduate from medical school and complete medical internships in Grand Cayman through the Health Services Authority can be registered to work in Jamaica, but not in their home country.

Amid a global shortage of doctors, he said, if junior doctors are required to train and work overseas, they would be unlikely to return home to Cayman.

“The reality is that once doctors start gaining seniority in an overseas hospital system for three years, they put down roots in that community and perhaps even start families. There is a strong disincentive to give up that seniority by uprooting to come back home to Cayman.”

He believes legislative and regulatory change is necessary to allow more doctors to complete their practical training locally and be licensed to practice on the island.

“We are going to be bringing in world-class physicians and doing this to the highest levels, and there is no reason why we should not be training Caymanians to be a part of it. The healthcare industry is going to grow with or without Caymanian participation, but my strong preference is to have significant Caymanian participation.”

Mr. Banks said the healthcare industry could be a source of skilled, high-paid employment if the right legislation and regulations are in place to allow Caymanians to train on island.

“Based on conversations I have had with the current government, I believe they understand the importance of allowing Caymanians to be trained locally to take up lucrative healthcare posts in their home country.”

He believes modernizing the legislation and guidelines is essential to make that a reality.

“If that doesn’t happen we risk a situation where Caymanians will be beggars at their own banquet.” (Cayman Compass)

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