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Bougainvillea Clinic at the Forefront of Medical Advances in the Region


With the performance of the first coronary angiogram on Oct. 26, 2018, and the official opening the following day of the first Cardiac Catheterization Lab in the non-US English-speaking Caribbean north of Barbados, the Bougainvillea Clinic on Tortola, British Virgin Islands, is positioned to continue to raise the bar on the advanced level of medical care offered in this part of the world.

Dr. Heskith Vanterpool and wife Jean Vanterpool

Dr. Heskith Vanterpool and wife Jean Vanterpool

A very proud and deservingly so, Dr. Heskith Vanterpool, the owner, touted the latest medical achievement in an exclusive interview with SailingBVI.

“Immediately after the procedure, the patient sat up and thanked all those involved for taking good care of him,” Dr. Vanterpool reported. “Thanks be to God for this development. Now, fewer patients with heart disease will have to travel overseas for their blocked cardiac arteries to be opened.”

He said this is major, as this will reduce the need to send a lot of patients to Puerto Rico, the USA and elsewhere. But since the volume of activity won’t lend to having Interventional Cardiologists based here, some patients may still need to be sent off-island.

The Bougainvillea Clinic (Private Hospital), popularly known as The Purple Palace, had its beginnings as a hotel that was never fully opened. In fact, the hotel took so long to build that locals called it ‘The Judgement Day Hotel’, inferring that judgment day would come before it would be completed.

Two American collectors of important artifacts spearheaded the construction in 1954, but its completion was derailed in 1959 due to a reported ‘falling out’ of the couple who came as managers. Interestingly, Dr. Vanterpool’s mother, Geneva (now deceased), was employed as an assistant to the manager at the time.

So the building was closed for 14 years and many a boy who lived in the Road Town area would tell tales of roaming through the tunnels.

Suffice it to say, in all of the improved and modern construction additions over the years, the edifice still boasts authentic structures from famous author Mark Twain’s house, such as railings and balustrades. Also, the reception area, which was the wine bar for the hotel, features artifacts from 400 years ago, during the days of the Chinese dynasty.

It was Briton, Dr. Robin Tattersall, on a two-year contract as General Surgeon at Peebles Hospital, who was challenged to stay on and provide private services at what later became Bougainvillea Clinic. He bought ‘The Judgement Day Hotel’, renovated it and opened it in 1973 as The Bougainvillea Clinic.

Dr. Tattersall, well recognized at that time as an excellent Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, attracted patients from the US and Europe. So, the concept of medical tourism started way back then.

As Dr. Tattersall started to think about retirement, Dr. Vanterpool, who by then had established a reputable practice himself, expanded Eureka Medical Clinic when he acquired Bougainvillea Clinic in 2010.

“I had a number of specialist surgeons who needed a place to operate,” Dr. Vanterpool said.” The visiting specialists included Dr. Tattersall himself who continued to work at Bougainvillea Clinic for the next five years and who would always be welcome here,” he added.

Dr. Vanterpool remembers working with Dr. Tattersall when he was 15 years old when he realized he wanted to get into the medical field. In tribute, the new state of the art operating theatre at Bougainvillea Clinic is named The Robin Tattersall Operating Theatre Suite.

Fast forward to today, the new Bougainvillea Clinic (Private Hospital), offers a range of general and specialty services. Since Dr. Tattersall retired, the hospital has continued to have plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery with a visiting Board Certified Plastic Surgeon from Canada, Dr. Leonard Harris.

Other visiting surgeons include Urologist Dr. Dwayne Thwaites, Dr. Geoff Liburd, a Neurosurgeon who does brain and spinal surgery, Obstetrician/Gynecologist Dr. Pradeep Ramootar and Internist Dr. A. Orimoloy.

Bougainvillea Clinic also offers General and Laparoscopic Surgery with Dr. Frederick Goldsmith, Physiotherapy with Juliane Potgieter, Orthopedic artificial knee and hip replacement, an Imaging Department for X-rays, CT Scanning and MRIs and also Ear Nose and Throat surgery. Dr. Vanterpool himself is an Internist, Gastroenterologist and Cardiologist.

Bougainvillea Clinic’s Urgent Care Services are available from 8am-8pm. The facility has 12 in-patient beds (doubling that which Dr. Tattersall had) and there is a high dependency unit HDU for ICU patients.

Along with Eureka Medical Clinic, which also has a branch on Virgin Gorda and Medicure Pharmacy and Laboratory, Dr. Vanterpool’s healthcare complex, including Bougainvillea Clinic, employs over 100 staff.

Dr. Vanterpool, who emphasized the central role his wife Jean has always and continues to play in the entire operation, said they are both very proud of the development of the business. “The things we do, the services we offer here are really very advanced and impressive for a small place like the BVI,” he mused. “We feel we have the facilities that can offer services that are needed in surrounding islands and further afield.”

Before the end of this very year, Bougainvillea Clinic (Private Hospital) intends to start offering lithotripsy for kidney stones.

And who knows what’s next! Here’s to better healthcare!