Staff, patients and the public were able to appreciate the much anticipated opening of the Cayman Islands Hospital’s brand new ultra-modern dialysis unit last week, which had been moved to make way for the impending arrival of a brand new 3T MRI machine, also state-of-the-art technology that will soon be greatly benefiting patients.
The new and vastly improved unit is a welcome addition to the Hospital as it comes with increased patient space and privacy, and with an enhanced ambience that will greatly contribute to the comfort of patients and staff. It offers eight stations with two reserve units in the peritoneal dialysis and examination rooms and it also houses two standard isolation rooms.
Health Minister Osbourne Bodden officially opened the unit and stressed the importance of having such a high quality service for residents: “Dialysis plays an integral role in the healthcare of those patients in the Cayman Islands who have to rely on the services of this unit to keep alive,” he confirmed. “Dialysis can be needed as a result of many life-threatening illnesses and diseases and is often required as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, one of a number of non-communicable diseases that we in the Health Ministry are committed to reducing in terms of occurrence here in Cayman.”
Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) Internist and Nephrologist, Dr Nelson Iheonunekwu confirmed that the new facility ranked among the best in the Caribbean region.
“It not only conforms to international standards but compares favourably with any modern dialysis unit in the world,” he said.
Dr Iheonunekwu went on to explain that the Health Services Authority had recently started a home-based dialysis programme in the form of continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, a fact that some may not be aware.
The home- based programme offers the patient the chance to take control of their treatment, flexibility and independence, he explained and obviated the need to come for treatment three times per week. However, by the time the programme took off, they were constrained by lack of a dedicated peritoneal dialysis room. This new unit came to the rescue by providing the requisite space for such patients.
In line with Health Minister Bodden’s comments, Dr Iheonunekwu emphasised that their long term goal had been and would always be to reduce the patient load in the unit by confronting squarely what he called “the menacing epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD)”.
The doctor outlined that in 1998 there were 10 dialysis patients in the Cayman Islands; in 2012 there were 52 patients on dialysis, representing a 420% jump over a period of 15 years.
“Diabetes and hypertension are the major drivers of CKD in our population as in other jurisdictions. CKD and dialysis have serious morbidity and mortality implications. In addition they impose a serious financial burden on the individual and Government as treatment of CKD including dialysis and transplant is prohibitively costly. Fighting this disease should therefore be a priority,” he confirmed.
Dr Iheonunekwu thanked everyone who in one way or another contributed to making the project a reality, in particular the HSA Chief Executive Officer, Lizzette Yearwood, and the senior management team, along with the HSA’s Facilities team, particularly Mr. Avatar Mathura and Dr. John Vlitos for the considerable amount of time they invested in the project.