While most people visit Barbados for a relaxing holiday in the sun, the realities of life often come into play when medical assistance is needed. This was in the international spotlight recently when emergency medical assistance was required of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and his wife Cherie's son Euan.
It is important to have a plan in case of a medical emergency during your stay in Barbados. Ambulances can often take up to one hour to reach your location, especially if you are on the busy West Coast.
Barbados is fortunate to have highly skilled medical personnel but those practitioners often do not have access to state of the art equipment. With few exceptions, the medical expertise and bedside manner of Barbados' physicians is on a World class level. It is highly recommended for those visiting Barbados to be proactive in selecting a course of action should the need arise.
What are your choices?
The Government owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is Barbados' only full service hospital, with intensive care facilities, located just outside of the capital Bridgetown. It also has a reciprocal arrangement for British nationals on the National Health Service (NHS) scheme, where you would be treated and cared for in a Public Ward. Be advised that QEH is often crowded and the wait can be long and sometimes frustrating if your medical needs are not deemed to be of immediate attention. Telephone 436-6450 or 511 for emergency dispatch.
FMH Emergency Medical Clinic is a private accident and emergency medical centre. Located in Belleville, St Michael, this facility offers X-ray, MRI and care for serious but not life threatening injuries. FMH is open from 8 am until 11:30 pm and will handle most emergencies or refer patients to the QEH as needed. Telephone 228-6120.
BayView Hospital, a privately owned and operated facility, with seven private rooms and four four-bed semi-private rooms, has been operational since 1989. Situated on the outskirts of Bridgetown and within close proximity of many leading hotels, BayView Hospital offers private non -emergency medical care in a variety of fields including cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery and urology. However, you must be admitted under the specific care of a physician who holds admitting privileges at this hospital. Please call 436 5446, or visit their website BayViewHospital.com.bb for more information.
A new state of the art, privately owned facility has opened its doors on the West Coast – Sandy Crest Medical Centre in Sunset Crest, St James. This ultra-modern complex offers 24 hour comprehensive emergency and non-emergency care service, x-ray, ultra-sounds, CT technology (by the end of the year), access to an ambulance service, 24-hour pharmacy access, as well as an asthma bay. This emergency clinic has employed the services of five of the island's leading emergency room practitioners, one for every shift. Please call 419-4911, or visit their web site SandyCrest.net (under construction) for more information.
The island has two private ambulance services, Island Care Ambulance (246) 435 9425, and Get Help Ambulance Service (246) 438 4357, and the QEH Ambulance Service (246) 436 6450 or 511, all of which are located in the Bridgetown area . However, there is a QEH Ambulance service out of the Arch Hall Fire Station in St Thomas, to service the West / North coast of the island. In extreme cases, patients will be air-ambulanced to either Canada or the USA.