Part II – Health Care in the Cayman Islands – The Orthopedic Surgeons

Sep 6, 2009   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on Part II – Health Care in the Cayman Islands – The Orthopedic Surgeons

As noted in Part I, as a Canadian who always had universal health care, all of our friends and family wanted to know what it was like living in a country where you had private insurance. This multi-part article discusses my experience with the Cayman Islands Health care services after I broke my collarbone in June 2009.

I left off Part I departing the private hospital with my arm in a sling, my collarbone broken and full of pain medication in my system (and pocket) waiting for Monday to see if I could see the Orthopedic specialists. I cannot say I remember much of the weekend, I am told that I slept a lot 🙂

Monday rolled around and my wife was able to arrange an appointment with the Cayman Orthopedic Group. No waiting, the appointment was for Monday! The Group is actually a number of Canadian Orthopedic surgeons, with varying specialties, that rotate throughout the year on one to two week “visits”. Thinking about it, it sure is a really nice gig if you can get it. The surgeon flies down for two weeks, brings his family who has a great vacation, they all stay in the company condo and he makes some money while enjoying the beautiful Caribbean weather with his family.

The surgeon I saw on Monday specialized in reconstructive surgery (i.e. hip replacements). I was impressed by his honesty. He said he could do the surgery but strongly recommended that I wait for two weeks until the next surgeon arrives. It so happens that the next surgeon arriving was Dr. David Sanders from London Ontario who is an orthopedic trauma surgeon for London, Ontario, Canada performing primary and reconstructive surgery for all complex fractures of the pelvis and extremities. It does not take much convincing to wait when a surgeon tells you that you “smashed” the collarbone and that it will be a “bun fight” to get it back together and he recommends you see another surgeon.

Although I was convinced, I had others that suggested I fly to the US or Canada to have it fixed. It appears that this is quite common practice. An interesting part is that my private insurance would have covered 100% of my surgery if I left the Island, but covered only 80% if I stayed. That is one issue that I have never followed up on. Nevertheless, I had decided to stay on the Island and wait for a few reasons. First, I could not imagine flying with a broken collarbone that was floating around and was painful when I walked never mind flying. Second, I felt very comfortable with the Doctors and the health care services on the Island.

We booked the surgery for July 14 and the Orthopedic group began obtaining the necessary approvals from the insurance company. I am told that the local insurance company uses a firm in the United States to review and confirm that the surgery is required. In my case, one look at the X-ray showed it was necessary.

Next time in Part III – Preparing for Surgery.

Kind regards,

Part I – Health Care in the Cayman Islands – A visit to the Private Hospital

Aug 23, 2009   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on Part I – Health Care in the Cayman Islands – A visit to the Private Hospital

Coming from Canada, where we have universal health care, my friends and family are always interested in hearing about health care in Cayman Islands and my thoughts of living in a country where all expats must purchase private health insurance. Up until this past June, I was fortunate in that I had no reason to use the health care facilities here in the Cayman Islands.

That all significantly changed this past June when I fell off a bike and landed “just right” to break my clavicle (collarbone). My wife, who was with me at the time, drove me to the Christie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital (the local private hospital), which is all of three minutes from our house. Have I ever told you how much I love living here where we are so close to everything?. As my wife parked the car I walked in and advised admissions that I had broke my collarbone and would very much appreciate if she could admit me without the long admissions process as I felt myself going into shock and was about to pass out. I sat down, put my head down on the counter and waited. Not more than a couple minutes later my wife walks in wondering why I was not being looked after and where everyone was. I looked up and sure enough the admissions personnel was not there. Not to worry, a nurse arrived seconds after my wife and advised that they were ready to see me. Now talk about service 🙂

I was taken to one of the emergency rooms where two nurses and student immediately started taking care of me. The first order of business was to administer some fluids and pain killers intravenously (“IV”). I have never see IV bottles drain so quickly. But, they stopped me from going into shock and I never passed out.

After seeing the doctor, it was off to have some x-rays taken. I was very fortunate in that I did not have to get up on the x-ray table. Those are hard enough at the best of time, I couldn’t image having to do it with a broken collarbone. What I found most interesting about this experience, is that when the x-rays were done, the doctor asked for payment. It seems that he was a separate profit center and you had to settle your x-ray bill with him.

Back in the emergency room, the doctor confirmed that I had broken my collarbone but they did not have an orthopedic surgeon on staff. For this service, I was referred to the Cayman Orthopedic Group which operated Monday through Friday (This accident of course happened on a Saturday afternoon). I was therefore put in a sling (which my wife had just purchased at one of the local pharmacies) and sent home with lots of pain killers.

All of the hospital staff was absolutely wonderful and I would have no difficulty in recommending them or using their services again (although hopefully not anytime soon ;-))

Next time, in part II, I will discuss my experience with the Cayman Orthopedic Specialists.

Take care,

Testing the smoke detector

Nov 10, 2008   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on Testing the smoke detector

I swear that time here in the Caribbean moves faster than in Canada. As with most days, today just flew by. As a matter of fact, it is hard to believe that my family and I moved down here over three months ago. We have been so busy with work, school and volunteering.

Today Brigitte (my wife) and I took a drive to the ocean. When we asked our daughter (my step-daughter) to join us, her exact words were “are you planning on getting out of the vehicle? If so, I cannot go because I cannot be seen with my parents.” Ah, the teenage years where parents become two headed monsters that know nothing and embarrass their children if they are seen in public with them. Alas, she did not accompany us.

There is actually very little damage on this side of Grand Cayman. We saw a couple of downed trees, but that was the extent of it. The waves were not nearly as high as I was hoping. But we did get to watch the unloading and loading a Seaboard cargo ship.

Seaboard loading

Upon arriving at home Brigitte decided to test the monitored smoke detector. Who actually tests a smoke detector you ask?…One who does it by burning dinner ;-). Just for the record, there are easier ways of testing. Even Max (our two year old German Shepherd Dog) had his nose plastered to the window screen taking in as much fresh air as he could.

Today I installed a slide show feed from my website hosted on I have to thank Kalani who had a site at (update: it appears to be no longer in operation) who provided a method of pulling pictures from Zenfolio. It is actually quite hard to find information on how to include pictures from Zenfolio as most of it revolves around Flickr. I made two modifications to Kalani’s suggestions: 1. I found that I did not have to publish my Yahoo Pipe; and 2. I was able to obtain a RSS feed directly from the Yahoo Pipes once I ran it. This saved me the step of using feedburner.

Well that’s it for another day. Until next time.


My First Post

Nov 9, 2008   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on My First Post

Welcome to my first post. As I was writing this I was wondering if anyone will ever read this. I therefore thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoy reading my blog. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave me a comment.

I think it is only fitting to tell you a little about myself. I am a Canadian (born and raised) who moved to the Cayman Islands this past summer to experience Island life and work. In regards to Island life, we just just experienced Hurricane Paloma as it passed by as a Category 3. Although Grand Cayman (where we are located) fared quite well, we lost another tree (we are batting 1000 as we lost a tree in the last Hurricane). Here are a couple pictures of the Olive tree that we lost last night:

Paloma Damage 1

Paloma Damage 2

I am originally from Canada where most root systems from the trees dig deep into the ground. Here on the Island, the root system fans out as the Island is more or less one big rock. Here is a picture of the tree after its “haircut”:

Paloma Hair cut

Enough about trees and hurricane damage. Enquiringly minds want to know…why should you come back? What can you expect from the Blog? In future blogs I will:

  • talk about my life as an expat living and working in the Cayman Islands;
  • tell you more about me;
  • discuss photography and post new pictures; and
  • the odd rant (not that the rant will be odd, OK maybe some will think so, but I was thinking more along the lines of infrequent :-).

It has been a pleasure.