Cancer treatments close to home

By Alan Markoff

19 May 2022

Cancer patients and their supporting family and friends no longer have to drive to Health City Cayman Islands in East End to receive various short-term treatments in the Cayman Islands.

In February, Health City's clinic in Camana Bay opened an oncology daycare suite for patients to comfortably and conveniently receive their treatments.

"This is a milestone that is close to my heart," said Health City's Consultant Medical Oncologist Dr. Vineetha Binoy at an open house and reception on 31 March in Camana Bay's Gardenia Court. "This suite is what I envisioned for my patients."

Dr. Binoy said that previously, patients received nonsurgical cancer treatments in a "makeshift" room at Health City's East End hospital. The new suite in the back of the Camana Bay clinic is purpose-built for the treatments, with three separate rooms for patients.

"This sanctuary offers a tremendous amount of natural light and openness, while providing adequate space for patients to receive their care with privacy and dignity," said Dr. Binoy. "This allows family and others who are part of a patient’s support system to be present to offer additional comfort during appointments."

Even though the oncology daycare suite is only temporary until the completion of the new Health City Camana Bay hospital, opening it was "the right thing to do," said Dr. Binoy.

"As a committed member of the community and wanting to better serve residents of the Cayman Islands, it is important for Health City to provide infusion services closer to where the majority of the people live and work," she said, noting that the journey of a cancer patient is never easy. "Although receiving care is critical, as care providers, we have to do as much as we can to reduce disruptions for those receiving infusions."

nurse in office
Registered nurse Roobathy Mayilvaganan stands in front of one of the private rooms that form part of the oncology daycare suite in Health City Cayman Islands' Camana Bay clinic. Photo courtesy of Health City Cayman Islands/Deep Blue Images

A variety of treatments are available at the oncology daycare suite for cancer patients, Dr. Binoy said.

"The specific treatments that we provide here include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, monoclonal antibodies, blood product transfusions and other support care services, including central line care and antibiotic therapy," she said. "Our scalp cooling device reduces hair loss associated with chemotherapy — one of the most distressing adverse effects of chemotherapy for patients."

Minister for Health and Wellness Sabrina Turner noted that in years past, cancer patients from the Cayman Islands had to travel off-island to receive the kinds of treatments now available at Health City Camana Bay.

"The care was just not available locally," she said. "We now have on-island treatment options that present minimal disruptions to day-to-day life."

The health minister complimented Health City for being "highly qualified and compassionate healthcare providers."

Health City Cayman Islands Clinical Director Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil said the oncology daycare suite was a precursor of what is to come when Health City Camana Bay opens.

"We continue to bring our services closer to where over 70% of the population reside, and close to where over 90% of residents work," he said.

Dr. Chattuparambil noted that Health City's cancer treatments are no longer limited to nonsurgical approaches.

"We are happy to have added Dr. Rashmi Sharma to our Health City team," he said. "Not only is she a surgical oncologist, but also the only oncoplastic breast surgeon in the Cayman Islands. The oncoplastic breast surgery skills she brings to the table are designed to remove cancer once spotted in as minimally an invasive way as possible."

The Health City Camana Bay medical facility, which had a ceremonial groundbreaking on 27 January, is scheduled to have its first phase open later this year and its second phase by the third quarter of 2023. When fully operational, the hospital will feature an advanced oncology department that will include medical oncology, hemato-oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology with a medical linear accelerator, Dr. Chattuparambil said.

"It will provide almost all forms of treatments for cancer available today."

This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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