Hamilton Medical Centre is Bermuda’s newest cutting edge walk-in medical facility, requiring no appointment or doctor’s referral. Bermuda’s residents and visitors needing to be seen quickly and diagnosed capably can now visit the Burnaby Street centre for a full-range of medical services with virtually no wait time.
Hospitals and their emergency rooms can be the stuff of nightmares. As can the news you need a blood test, scan or X-ray, when your life is full to the brim, and you barely made time to visit the doctor in the first place.
When veteran GP Dr J.J. Soares opened his relocated, renovated and newly rebranded Hamilton Medical Centre, now known as HMC–Burnaby Urgent Care & Medical Imaging, it was to alleviate many of these issues.
“I’ve always thought there was a great need for a clinic like this, which had most services that anyone would need for speedy diagnosis and treatment in the centre of Hamilton,” explains Dr Soares. “People no longer want appointments made weeks in advance. We don’t have time for that. People want to just walk in, be seen and that way they can get back to work quicker once they’re diagnosed and treated properly, and all for the price of a regular family doctor’s visit.”
Currently home to two GPs, Drs Ufford and Soares, the centre offers family medicine, urgent care services, blood testing, ultrasound, pharmacy, mammography, X-ray, CT scan, MRI, bone density testing, cardiological testing, TCD and immigration physicals, and immigration chest X-rays. Dr Soares also rents out the top floor of his five-floor building to other doctors, who want access to these facilities.
In addition to new equipment, the non-medical fixtures, fittings and décor have been designed to make patients feel calm and comfortable. “I almost wanted it to have a spa feel,” he explains. Making patients feel calm and comfortable around large medical machines has proved something of a challenge in the past, especially when it comes to MRI scans. “There are so many patients of mine that cannot do a conventional MRI,” he continues. “It’s too enclosed. They are either claustrophobic or they are too large and just can’t go in there. You can sedate some people and some people you can’t even sedate. Sedation is a risk I’d rather avoid anyway. Some people have to go overseas for their MRI.”
Another problem with conventional MRI machines is that patients are not allowed to move. This is particularly difficult for adults or children who are anxious and fidgety. With the open MRI you can have the caregiver in the same room, holding their hand during the scan. “The MRI is done through magnets, so no radiation,” Dr Soares explains. “Also, because its open, you can move the patient laterally thereby allowing one to better center the area of concern which provides better quality images.”
Dr Soares also invested in the latest mammogram machine, the Pristina, which has plastic paddles to stop it feeling cold and a “dueta” remote control, which allows women to manage their own compression. “What they found is that when the patient has control, she actually applies more pressure, which gives better images,” he explains.
Dr Soares says patients enjoy that everything is under one roof and doctors appreciate the speed with which they receive their patients’ results. “Our blood test results are ready within an hour and a half,” he says. “Our scanning results, we can send a CD with the patient immediately. X-rays, we can send a link to their doctor who can view them as soon as the patient gets off the table. We can have a full report from a radiologist overnight.”
The fact that no advance appointment is necessary, is appealing to both doctors and their patients. “Patients are not waiting days for an appointment. Once everything’s up and running, we will offer same day scans for MRI and CT. Some of those scans require preparation, full bladders, fasting, etc., but for anything that doesn’t, you can just send the patient over.”
The clinic is very personal to Dr Soares. The building has been named after his late father, John A Soares, the mammography suite after his mother, Alberta May Soares, and the MRI and CT suite in honour of his friend Simon M Hodgson, who was also the clinic’s architect and project manager and who tragically died in February 2020.
For more information about Hamilton Medical Centre, visit www.hamiltonmedicalcentre.bm or call 495-5745.