Medical Care in Belize: My Dermatologist Appointment in Belize City

Yesterday I traveled on the water taxi from San Pedro to Belize City for an appointment with a dermatologist who was highly recommended by friends: Dr. Julitta Bradley.

The water taxi and cruise ship port in Belize City
The river in Belize City and the fishing boats

I am SO glad I went.

I have written before about what I call “expat denial”. You live on an island where the sun is almost always shining, surrounded by freewheelers on vacation, eating and drinking and enjoying…you feel younger than you did in the States. You’re 50 and wearing a tee shirt and flip-flops! Routine doctors’ appointments don’t seem so routine – I’m on island time!

Perhaps you are uninsured – like I am…it’s easy to put things off.

That may sound crazy. Uninsured in Belize should mean that you want to detect things EARLY. Medical care in Belize has some great pros: you can get appointments the same or the next day, doctors have time to talk to you and understand your issues, and the price is much lower than in the USA. It can also be free at the local polyclinic. But it also has some HUGE cons.

Cons like: There is not a lot of information online – much of it is word-of-mouth. There is not a wide range of specialized, serious care, medications, testing, and treatments for more serious illnesses and more complex diagnoses. Have an oddly broken bone or a cancer diagnosis, many seek treatment in Mexico, Guatemala, or elsewhere.

So I want to be as transparent about my medical care as possible – and my boyfriend Jeff’s. NOT as a playbook on how to do things – good grief no – but just to share information. Because early diagnosis is EVERYTHING.

Now let’s get to my visit yesterday. I called her office on Monday morning to get an appointment and was offered one the next morning. We made the appointment for Wednesday morning at my request. I told them I would be on the 8:30am water taxi from San Pedro, arriving in Belize City at 10am. And that I would be at the appointment by 10:30am.

I hopped in a $10bzd taxi at the water taxi and we were there in less than 10 minutes.

Doctors Office List of services in Belize CIty

My Appointment with Dr. Julitta Bradley

My main reason for going: I wish I could tell you that I was seeing a dermatologist because I am smart. That I am a 50-year old Caucasian woman who gets a lot of sun living in Belize. Most of it driving in the golf cart, walking around town, inadvertently. And…please don’t judge…I don’t wear sunblock every day. I sweat too much. It’s sooo greasy!

I was going to have a mole examined – on my chest. One that has been growing too quickly for my liking and is itchy.

But while seeing the lovely, personable, warm and open Dr Bradley, I got much more. I got a new “primary care” doctor. HOORAY!

I arrived at her office, at the front desk, and was called in by the doctor who apologized for keeping me waiting less than 10 minutes.

We sat down by her desk and talked about my entire history, my family history, my issues and concerns. Talking about everything from menstruation to broken bones to last doctors’ appointments to heart issues in my family. She was taking copious notes.

We then did a full body scan area by area. (No standing nude in the middle of cold room under a fluorescent light – that’s how I pictured it worked) Behind ears, scalp, back of neck and my mole/growth.

I have a small fungus patch on my scalp (this is not the first fungi that’s visited me in Belize) – she wrote me a prescription for a medicated oil (that I picked up later for $25bzd) – and we talked about the removal of my Seborrhoeic Keratosis.

A benign tumor or growth that is most likely hereditary. One might call it a beauty mark – one might call it a brown wart. It would be a HUGE problem if it was on the tip of my nose.

Not necessary to remove but since it is in an area that rubs on my clothing and itches, I liked the idea of removal.

We removed it with cryotherapy. About 10 minutes – no pain…just felt a little itchy…and it will remove itself/fall off over the next few weeks.

She also gave me a prescription for what she recommends I do before I see her next – in 4-6 weeks.

  • A mammogram
  • A routine pap smear (HPVDNA if I can)
  • And full labs – blood, urine, stool and thyroid profile

We talked about diet, exercise, my thyroid, medications, sun protection, and menopause…I was there for well over an hour. No rush. It was an amazing, positive experience. I left with a list of sunblocks she recommended – including powdered protection for my face.

Total price: $200bzd – the consultant alone is $65bzd

I HIGHLY recommend Dr Bradley. And I am going to be niggling Jeff to go see her too. A white guy with a shaved head who spends many hours a day outside – on a boat? I mean..COME ON!

I headed out the door feeling VERY adult…very in charge of my life. It’s a way better feeling than denial.

Out to do some errands in Belize City – I’ll let you know about that – and the details of my transportation to and from Belize City tomorrow.

Christmas decorations at the park in downtown Belize City
Downtown Belize City decorations

Let me know if you have any questions, doctor recommendations or information in the comments below.

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  1. Steve Rall on December 7th, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Fantastic info. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Joel on December 7th, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for sharing Rebecca. This is all great info. As a couple from NY thinking of relocating to Belize (either full or part time), our biggest concern is how to manage healthcare. If anyone reading this knows of any groups or consultants that help with navigating healthcare, banking, legal, immigration and all the “unknown” unknowns of moving to Belize, please share and thanks in advance.

    • San Pedro Scoop on December 7th, 2023 at 2:13 pm

      I have never heard of anyone offering that service. There are so many unknowns! But that seems like a rite of passage…and membership in lots of Facebook groups.

  3. Cindy on December 7th, 2023 at 10:24 am

    Is what you paid be affordable for most Belizeans?

    • San Pedro Scoop on December 7th, 2023 at 10:38 am

      That’s hard for me to say. If you make min wage of $5bzd an hour – is a $65 consultation affordable? I think so…

      But there is also the polyclinic where you can see a more generalist doctor for free. I think appts are far more affordable here to all than they would be to a non-insured patient in the US.

      Maybe someone else has information on this?

  4. Lynda Trelut on December 7th, 2023 at 10:42 am

    What a Big Girl post!! thanks, Rebecca, for the3 nudge

  5. marcus on December 7th, 2023 at 11:10 am

    Glad everything worked out. I wanted to interview you this weekend and share your story to my subscribers. I will be in San Pedro. I couldn’t get your message button to work. Can you contact me via email? Thanks

  6. Nica on December 7th, 2023 at 11:12 am

    Thanks so much for this info. As someone who has recently purchased a home on Ambergris Caye and considering retiring in a few years, this is incredibly helpful.

  7. Camaro Young on December 7th, 2023 at 11:43 am

    I tried to find Dr Bradley’s contact info on the web and could not. Can you pass on a phone number?

    • San Pedro Scoop on December 7th, 2023 at 2:04 pm

      Good point! Dermatology and Skin Surgery Centre, 2604 Mercy Lane, 223-5479 and email: [email protected]

      Thanks for asking!

  8. Dee Thomas (Lady Dee) on December 7th, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    I LOVE, LOVE, Dr. Bradley, she is always spot on and I highly recommend her to anyone. I can also suggest Dr. Adrian Heusner in BC, he’s awesome.

  9. SPmQQseBZ on December 7th, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    just about time to do a spread on out new hospital..” ambergris hopes hospital ”

    • San Pedro Scoop on December 8th, 2023 at 8:40 am

      They are not “going public” yet – but I got some things to say 🙂