Medical Tourism has arrived

POSTED: 03/3/14 2:23 PM

Dear Editor,

The Cayman Islands Medical Tourism Facility known as “Health City Cayman Islands” officially opened on February 25. The opening of the $80 million dollar facility with 140-beds has been described as the most significant event in Cayman Islands business history since the first law firm was established 50-years ago leading to the island becoming a well-known international financial center.

The opening of the medical tourism facility is seen as the birth of a third pillar of the Cayman economy and a new model for global healthcare supplementing tourism and financial services.  It has been said Cayman will be at the forefront of a technological revolution in healthcare.

The new facility complements the islands existing healthcare system which comprises of two other hospitals, namely Cayman Islands Hospital (124-bed principal healthcare facility of the island) and the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital (18-bed private facility offering personalised high quality health care).  Both facilities have visiting specialists coming in on a regular basis similar to our St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).  The co-existence of the current facilities and the medical tourism hospital in the Cayman Islands is not seen as a threat in any form or fashion but as a positive development, and complements each other in overall healthcare for the people of the islands.

The Cayman Islands has a total population of over 53.000 (est. July 2013) and receives annually over 1.7 million tourists (cruise passengers 1,375,872 and stay over 345,387 in 2013).  In comparison to country Sint Maarten, both islands are similar in many ways.  Country Sint Maarten has a population of over 55,000 (est. 2011) and received over 2.2 million tourists in 2013 (cruise and stay-over visitors).

Health City Cayman Islands is a partnership between Dr. Devi Shetty’s India-based Narayana Hrudalaya (in Bangalore) and Ascension Health Alliance, the latter, the largest private non-profit health network in the United States of America.

The first patients are expected to come from the Caribbean as of March 10 and the facility expects to be cash flow positive within six months.

Now that this part of the project has been completed, work will start later this year on a hotel and residences for patients of the 140-bed medical tourism facility.  Once again opportunities are being created for the construction sector later this year and when the aforementioned have been built additional employment positions will become available.

A 300-bed unit as part of the medical tourism facility will expand the hospital’s specialties into neurology and oncology, and work is to begin in late 2015 or a year later once the hotel and residences have been completed.

Health City plans to offer world-class healthcare at lower prices based on the use of technology.  17 doctors from the India facility will initially lead the Health City medical team and consultant specialists and nurses from India will be available around the clock to patients in Cayman via remote technology – every bed will have an iPad creating an almost paperless facility, the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

The process of bringing medical tourism to the Cayman Islands dates back to September 2009 when Dr. Devi Shetty visited the islands for the first time and met with government officials to discuss the possibility.  In October of that same year a memorandum of understanding was signed between the government and Dr. Shetty.  Overall the project took almost four and a half years from the interests shown to the opening of the facility just a few days ago.

A 2009 Grant Thornton economic impact study estimated indirect impact revenue to be in the tens of millions after just a few years.

Country Sint Maarten’s move into the medical tourism field would lead to an economic impulse and opportunities.  Why not a ground breaking of a “Health City Sint Maarten” medical tourism facility in 2014?

Roddy Heyliger

 

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