Less than two years after it opened, the Eleuthera Medical Center, located near Governor’s Harbour in Central Eleuthera, founded in partnership with the non-profit group Eleuthera Community Healthcare Initiative, reported its membership topped 700 residents this month, a jump fueled in part by the addition of new services including x-ray capability and upcoming dental care, to support its existing services including ultrasounds, chiropractic care, general practice, pediatric, obstetrics & gynecology, health coaching, onsite stat labs and emergency treatment.
“The response with which we have been met and the welcome we have received has been beyond anything we imagined, but speaks to the need for reliable, sophisticated health and wellness care, especially on a Family Island where, in most cases, medical services are not as readily available as they would be in the capital,” said Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, whose vision inspired the creation of the community-owned medical center.
Dr. Lightbourne, who founded Bahamas Wellness Health System which also operates the Wellness Clinic on Collins Avenue near Doctor’s Hospital in Nassau, said adding x-ray capability was critical.
“This was a major investment on the part of the community-owned clinic and one that was urgently needed,” he said. “Every time we had to tell someone they had to fly to Nassau for an x-ray because they might have a fracture, it was heartbreaking. The cost, the pain of having to fly when you are already injured and the time between the injury and the setting of a bone if there is a fracture was an unbearable situation to put people through.” In addition to the $50,000+ in equipment and software, Eleuthera Medical Center contracted with an experienced board certified radiologist and an X-Ray technician for support.
“We have experienced a number of firsts for Family Island medical services in a very short period of time, and I have to thank the entire community that has supported us and our hard-working staff,” said Dr. Lightbourne, standing in a clinic with gleaming equipment and an inviting HGTV-worthy décor, thanks to community volunteers, including the Cancer Society who also helped to enlist members and provide start-up for the engine that has become a gathering place for lectures on lifestyle, diet and exercise, each a part of a plan to set a new standard and model for Family Island medical care without burdening the public purse.
Among Eleuthera Medical Clinic’s achievements – an expansion of a roster of rotating physicians and medical professionals. What started out in August 2018 with one doctor and an occasional substitute is now up to 12 physicians including a psychiatrist, a chiropractor, urologist and childhood specialist. Dental services in a nearby location are slated to start in January. That will make it the only full time private dental practice in Eleuthera. The center is also in the process to become one of only a hand full of NHI-Approved labs in The Bahamas.
The clinic’s business plan combines revenue from patients using health insurance or self-paying along with membership-based provision of services. Members pay $40 a month, entitling them to unlimited visits, labs and an annual physical. The clinic’s emergency room is open on a 7-day, 24-hour basis as needed. Dr. Lightbourne’s passion for wellness is rooted in years of practice in the emergency rooms of Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctor’s Hospital where he witnessed case after case of crises caused by poor choices and unhealthy lifestyle.
“Heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer are all preventable diseases that we can wipe out just by the choices we make and I vow to do my part to persuade people that they can make the right choices and lead full, healthy lives,” said Dr. Lightbourne. “If I can do that on a daily basis through a clinic in Eleuthera filling a need and with the coaches and other staff in Nassau and we can make a difference, bit by bit, in the health of our Bahamian people, we will have accomplished God’s work.”