Letters to the Editor: Dr. Shetty’s new hospital: The risks outweigh the benefits

Over
the past few weeks there have been many discussions in the media as to whether
medical tourism is good for the island or not. After doing some research and
dissecting the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the new
Dr. Shetty project, here is a list of some of the main pros of this new
hospital coming to Cayman:

Caymanians
should have access to cheaper tertiary-care procedures without having to fly
overseas. The MOU states that Caymanians will be offered 20 per cent discount
on all surgical operation.  This sounds
good in theory, but will only be applicable for HSA referred Caymanians and
honestly, what percentage of Caymanians will actually need these types of
procedures?

Hotel
occupancy and tourism should increase. The MOU states that patients of the
hospital will be required to stay for up to seven days in a local hotel.  The Chamber of Commerce quarterly review
stated “The hospital could bring hundreds of millions of dollars annually into
the Cayman economy.”  However, these
patients will be in no condition to enjoy the island and what it has to offer.
The financial reward is thus likely to be only in the transportation and hotel
industry.

Caymanians
should have more jobs.  The MOU states
“the project will generate huge employment opportunities for Caymanians.”  However, there isn’t any stipulation
on the amount of Caymanians that are going to be hired by Dr. Shetty in the
MOU, or that he must use local contractors to build the facility. He did state
in the Chamber review that “At opening we will need approximately 600 to 800
employees and we project about 160 of these will be Caymanians.” How many
qualified Caymanians are actually unemployed in the health services industry in
Cayman, and why did the Government decide not to add a clause specifying the
exact number of Caymanians that should be hired?   

Some
of the cons are:

Airport
and roads have to be expanded in order to accommodate the new influx of
patients and family members. Where is the money going to come from in order to
expand or build a new airport and roads? More importantly, what about the
environmental consideration of the destruction of Cayman’s natural habitat
(such as the 500 acres of land sold to Dr. Shetty)?

Government
will waive import duties on the first $800 million spent on medical equipment
and supplies. If government would have charged at least 10 per cent duties on
the first $800 million the island would have had funds that could have gone
towards the Budget deficit instead of implementing civil servants’ salary cuts.

Dr.
Shetty’s Hospital will be exempt from any potential future taxation implemented
for a period of 20 years. Why is Government bending head over heels for this
person? Why are they offering Cayman in a silver platter to Dr. Shetty?

There
are many more cons that could be added for example, the increased traffic,
issues relating to sewage, garbage and biohazards disposals and increased risk
for epidemics. Does government have enough money or resources to build and deal
with all this?

It
is also important that the new hospital meets the Joint Commission on Accreditation
Of Healthcare Organization or the Joint Commission International requirements,
especially since it is going to be performing organ transplantations. There is
a huge demand for organs on the black market and we won’t necessarily know
whether the organs are coming from legitimate sources. As such, we don’t want
to be categorized as a third world country for providing a safe haven for these
types of procedures without the appropriate supervision or be in the middle of
another international scrutiny.

In
conclusion, it is perhaps a good idea for government to review the clauses
within the MOU and make the necessary adjustments to it, such as making Dr.
Shetty pay 10 per cent duties across the board on construction, medical
supplies and equipment as one example.

Ray
Dixon