Sun, Sea, And A New Knee: Canadians Turning To Caribbean Hospital To Avoid Long Wait Times

TORONTO (May 11, 2017) – Canada has a world class health system, but for some, the wait times for medical procedures are too long. Health City Cayman Islands offers a swifter solution in the sun.

Angie Bugera of Edmonton, for example, needed a hip replacement and waited five months until she could be seen at the hip and knee clinic.

“The triage appointment was five minutes long and they didn’t really do anything except to say, ‘Yes, you’re a candidate for surgery,’” she recalled.

Bugera says she had expected to be assigned a surgeon three months later. When that didn’t happen, she called to follow up. Bugera was told she would have to wait another year for a surgery date.

Bugera leads a full life and did not appreciate the long wait. “I have an art gallery. I have a consulting business. I am a very active woman and I enjoy my life. I was (getting) to the point where I could foresee that I might end up in a wheelchair and also, my knee was beginning to hurt.”

Even though she was already in physiotherapy and working with a kinesiologist, Bugera says she was afraid her other joints would be affected if she didn’t get her hip replaced. “That’s when I said, ‘I’m not waiting anymore’…I needed to get it done. My high season is fall and I thought to myself, ‘I can just see what’s going to happen. I’m going to end up being in a wheelchair, halfway through my busy season. No can do.’”

So, she researched facilities in Europe and the United States but ended up back in Canada, talking to Nicola Banks, Head of Health City Canada, in Hamilton, Ontario.

“She was so good at pointing me in the right direction in terms of getting me information, connecting with my clinic to obtain test results,” Bugera said.

What clinched it for her was a phone consultation with Dr. Alwin Almeida, Chief Orthopedic Surgeon and Joint Replacement Specialist at Health City, before any decision had been made. “I thought, ‘Okay, this is so wonderful that I can actually talk to a medical professional who respects the fact that I have questions. Unbelievable! I started to be thrilled from that point.”

Compared with other options, Health City Cayman Islands was affordable. “The United States was double or triple the amount of money. Europe would have been a little bit more, but I didn’t want to go that far away from home. Finally, really, the Cayman Islands? To recuperate in the Cayman Islands when you really don’t have the option to move around a lot or do a lot, felt like a wonderful option.”

Once she got to Health City she was delighted with her reception. “You get somebody assigned to you when you get to the hospital. My somebody’s name is Madhu. She’s so wonderful. She basically takes you through the whole process, makes sure you’re getting the care that you’re supposed to be getting.”

In addition to performing a successful hip replacement, Dr. Almeida made a discovery that answered a longstanding question for Bugera. “He told me after the surgery that I was probably born with hip dysplasia and a deformed femur head and socket, which was then fixed. That, to me was a huge relief, that I didn’t have cancer or some horrible underlying disease that nobody had discovered yet.”

Dan Matheson, Bugera’s husband, was seriously impressed with all aspects of the services his wife received. “I’m totally blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I’m recommending this to all of my friends. Anyone that I know that has debilitating problems, they should be looking into this place,” he said.

Bugera concurred: “It is an incredibly high level of care for a very serious operation, for not that much money.”

The Health City office in Hamilton, which has as its mission to offer Canadians timely access to high-quality health care, works in partnership with Canadian health-care professionals and has designed a program specific to Canadians. The office has been receiving calls about orthopedic, spinal and bariatric surgeries as Canadian patients explore the possibilities for procedures necessary to treat conditions that are detrimental to their quality of life and have long wait times in the Canadian health-care system.