Friday, April 27, 2018

Modern Medicine in the Bahamas

The United States always seem like the best option for medical care. This week I interviewed a doctor here in the Bahamas and the answers to some of the questions left me thinking that maybe the Bahamas has better medical care than the US. I know it may be a huge thing saying that, but I have some evidence.

I recently interviewed – Dr. Melanie Cooper at Exuma Medical Clinic and found some interesting differences between going to the doctor at home compared to the Bahamas:

Mix of public and private clinics –  In the US everyone is competing. Doctors’ offices compete with other doctor offices, fast food restaurants compete with other fast food restaurants. Here in Georgetown Bahamas, it’s different as it is part of their culture to help each other.  

There are two types of clinics here private and public.  If you don’t have money, then go to the public clinic and if you have more specific needs then go to the private one.  Each one offers great medical care and they work together to help their patients.

More affordable – It is cheaper to see the doctor here and a lot cheaper for prescriptions.  A three-hundred-dollar prescription in the US is just twenty dollars here. 

The clinics here also won’t turn you down if you can’t pay for the price of an appointment, you just pay what you can afford. In both types of clinics children and elderly visits are free and adult appointments usually cost about eighty dollars.

Get in right away to see the doctor – To schedule a doctor’s appointment you don’t have to wait weeks in advance, all you have to do is call ahead or just show up and you will be with the doctor in ten minutes.  There are also some islands out here that don’t have local doctors, but the doctors will fly out at least once a month to go do checkups with everyone in town. 

Each community looks after their own – Sometimes the people on other islands get sick and can’t fly to Georgetown, so everyone in the community will make sure that person is well supplied and well fed until the doctor comes to see them.

Improving all the time - One of the questions I asked Dr. Cooper was: “If you could add anything to this clinic what it would be?”  Since the clinic was really new and they just opened in September she had a lot of things on the list.  She wanted a pharmacy in the building so a client could leave with everything they needed. For blood tests they have to send it on a plane to Nassau and wait, to save time she wanted a local lab to get results in minutes.

It isn’t all "Better in the Bahamas" though as they are facing challenges such as:

Keeping Doctors- It's sadly not everyone’s dream to be a doctor in the Bahamas and right now they are facing some real problems, the Bahamas are losing doctors and nurses. The doctors and nurses are traveling to the states for jobs that pay higher. [i]

Lifestyle Changes- The Bahama Lifestyle has changed tremendously since the 1970’s.  Another interesting question I asked Dr. Cooper was what is the biggest health care problem facing the Bahamas? The answer was obesity. They eat to many fried foods and sugary drinks according to her. In the 1970s everyone walked everywhere and ate what they grew and caught.  Now people eat whatever the latest fast food restaurant has to offer and drive, instead of walk,  everywhere.  The Bahamas is the highest obesity rate in the Caribbean and Latin America.[ii]

Food Supply-  I thought that reef fish poisoning would be a lot more common here but apparently only a few people have come in to the clinic with this problem. Reef fish poisoning is when someone eats a fish that lives on the reef like a barracuda. The barracuda can get ciguatera from eating the smaller reef fish.  This is a growing problem here in the Bahamas. [iii]

Visitors– When tourists visit they can bring viruses and bacteria the Bahamians aren’t used to so a lot of them get sick with a cold or the flu every season.

To summarize, the Bahamas has great health care at reasonable prices, so you won’t go bankrupt when you are sick. Everyone has to exercise more and eat heather but, in the Bahamas, it is a huge problem with 69% of the population being overweight. Since their community is so strong I am sure that they will overcome this problem together. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fun in the Sun in George Town!

It has been a few weeks since my last blog post so I wanted to let everyone to know we have now made it all the way down the beautiful Exuma chain and are anchored at a really amazing place called George Town.

To get here we have sailed over 120 miles from Eleuthera and have seen dozens of islands.  Some of my favorites have been Warderwick Wells, Staniel Cay and Blackpoint.  Each one was so awesome they deserve their own blog post!

One of the big reasons I really like George Town is because there are a lot of kid boats here and new boats seem to show up every day.  We get to hang out with our friends everyday after boat school.  Some of the fun things we get to do are movie nights where we get to go to another boat, make popcorn and watch a good movie. 

Sailor from SV Soul Shine and Aiden and Ava from SV Sava came over for movie night!

We also celebrated my 13thbirthday on the boat with my friends and we tried out the boom swing we made. 

Birthday Party Boom Swing!

My Dad made an awesome kid launcher that pulled you 30 feet in the air and we landed in the water. 

My Mom and brothers also made a cake for the party all the boat kids were super excited because they haven’t had cake in months and the whole cake was gone in 2 minutes.

Friends from SV Sava, SV Gato and SV Mariposa came over to celebrate! 

It is easy to make friends in George Town and I have met kids of all ages.  Some of my good friends are Aiden and Ava on SV Sava and  Penelope and Christian on SV Gato and Heather and Katie on SV Mariposa.

George Town also has a lot of cool things I like to do outside.  From our boat there are three great snorkeling spots where I get to see turtles, reef fish and sting rays.  The water is calm here and some spots are shallow enough to stand up if you get tired.

We found an abandoned resort across the bay called “Crab Cay”. Before this resort was abandoned they build a really expensive canal that had tall cliffs and under water there was coral and fish. This was the perfect spot for a good cliff jumping picture. It was so much fun to jump off the tall cliffs into the clear water. 

My favorite thing to do after boat school is to hang out at the Chat-n-Chill beach with my friends where we can do a lot of fun things.  I have learned to play beach volleyball and here is a picture of my mom and dad playing a game.

People play "Fun" Volleyball everyday at 2pm. My mom calls this the adult PE class. 

They have a tall rope swing over the beach that goes really fast and we also play on a slack line where you can test your balance.

Hanging out on the slack line with our friends Daniel and Elena

Swinging from the rope swing!

There are also 5 cats that live on the island and I get to play with them all the time.  These cats are nice and purr when you pet them. My friends and I have named all the cats Buttercup, Ginger, Waffles, Pepsi, and Slick. I was the one who named one cat Waffles.

Here are some cool pictures of Waffles taken by Josie on SV Tailsman

I hope you will get a chance to see George Town as it is a great place  Next week is the Bahamian Family Sailing Regatta which is going to be really interesting.  I will write you soon to let you know about our next adventure as we leave the Bahamas after five months and head to the Turks and Caicos and then we are heading further south to the Dominican Republic.