Where When How — May/June 2017
Change Language:
The Doctor Says
Dr Steve Bourne


THESE ISLANDS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN, AND STILL REMAIN, A VERY HEALTHY PLACE TO LIVE. Clean air, clear waters, friendly people and plenty of sunshine. There are no serious indigenous diseases. The islands are safe. The provision of health care in the islands has made great strides in the past two decades.

As the population has grown, the facilities have increased and modernised. There are two modern hospitals, both operated by InterHealth Canada, in the Turks and Caicos Islands; one on Grand Turk and one on Providenciales. Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales is a modern facility fully equipped to deal with everything from a routine appointment with a GP to major surgery.

There are also four private medical clinics, the largest of which is Associated medical Practices, located on Leeward Highway and where you will find the recompression chamber. Additionally, the clinic houses medical services which include a chiropractor, women’s health clinic, an optometrist, a dental / orthodontist clinic, and a pharmacy.

Like the rest of the tropical world, (Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic in our area), we have had cases of mosquito borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika. However, we do not have the mosquito which carries Malaria. Use insect repellent and wear long sleeves at sunrise and around sunset or from 4-7 pm. See a doctor if you develop a fever on the islands, or in the month of your return home. Manage a fever with Acetaminophen / Tylenol until you have seen a doctor.



Sunburn is a very common skin complaint here in the islands, usually seen in the first two days of your vacation. Beware of the windy, sunny days - the wind keeps you cool and you do not realise how much you are burning. Tell the person next to you if they are getting sun burnt. Always use sunscreen, several times a day. Wear a hat, especially around midday “From ten to two a T-shirt will do!” If you do get sun burnt apply Hydrocortisone cream every two or three hours, which can be picked up from any pharmacy. If the skin blisters or is very painful - visit the doctor - a burn is a burn!


The Turks & Caicos Islands is an internationally recognised ‘Rabies Free’ country. Unfortunately we do have roaming, unowned dogs in areas of Providenciales. If you are bitten by a dog, you may require a Tetanus shot. A few simple precautions could prevent the bite from happening at all. If you meet a strange dog(s) do not make eye contact with the animal, because in dog speak, that is a threatening action. Cross your arms over your chest and back away from the dog. Move confidently. Do not turn your back on the dog, and do not run.


Drink, drink, drink, as much fluid as you can. Encourage the children to drink, especially early in the day. You need to drink as much fluid as possible: water, juices, sodas. You also need to replace salt: drink electrolyte drinks, use extra salt on food, eat salt crackers - especially if exercising or playing out on the beach or the golf course. Your usual daily fluid intake at home will not be sufficient here in the warm sun. Bottled water is recommended.


Diarrhea and vomiting do occur on vacation, whether it be visitors coming to the islands or Islanders visiting the mainland. If you are cooking, wash your fruits and vegetables in drinkable water. Avoid food that has been left out of refrigeration for a long time. Avoid undercooked meats. If severe vomiting and/or abdominal cramps occur, seek medical help early. Mild cases can be treated with plenty of electrolyte fluids and Tylenol.


There are no life threatening insects on the island. The snakes are not poisonous. Mosquitoes and sand flies (no see ‘ems) annoy people the most. Cover the skin after 4 pm or spray with insect repellent. Most restaurants will provide a repellent you can spray under the table. If the bites become itchy then apply Hydrocortisone cream every two hours. Scorpions, centipedes and spiders can be found, their bite may be painful, but it will not kill you. If in doubt - seek medical help.


Avoid swimming with jellyfish, the small thimble size ones may be hard to spot in the sea. If you do, you may notice a little prickling, especially under bathing suits and in hairy areas. Later, each prickle will develop a red itchy spot. As soon as you can, wash the rash with shampoo (preferably with warm salty water), then apply Hydrocortisone cream every two hours.


The pharmacies on island carry a wide range of drugs. Bring your own prescriptions in two separate bags so if one is lost you still have enough medicine with you. Most pharmacies will accept faxed prescriptions from your doctor at home. If you cannot reach your doctor then the island doctors will help you replace your medication. If the exact drug is not available, a close substitute will be found.


We hope you don’t have serious medical problems while vacationing, but if you do then telephone the doctor immediately. We are capable of stabilising medical emergencies and transferring the patient by air-ambulance to a hospital in Florida. Visitors would be well advised to check, before they leave home, that their medical or travel insurance covers them for airambulance repatriation costs. The doctors will make house or hotel calls if requested - even at night - for serious or painful cases

By Dr Steve Bourne O.B.E. A fully licensed, British trained physician who worked in the Royal Navy, on the Queen Elizabeth 2, in Saudi Arabia and Ireland before settling here over 20 years ago. He is currently working with Associated Medical Practices www.doctorstci.com