Developers of the proposed
2,000-bed medical tourism hospital in Cayman say they have “backed off” buying
property on which to build the hospital until the government finalises steps
that will enable the project to move forward.
The government signed an
agreement with Indian cardiologist Devi Shetty in April to create the US$2
billion Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre.
Asked if the hospital
project had bought property on which to build the facility, local partner Gene
Thompson said: “We’ve backed off until we can get things moving forward. We’re
waiting on the government.”
He said elements of the
agreement signed with the government in April had to be put in place before
work on the project could continue.
The agreement included
numerous concessions and exemptions on government fees and import duties and an
undertaking by the government to help the company with its rezoning application
to secure 500 acres in the eastern part of Grand Cayman. The exact location for
the proposed development has not been identified.
Since the April signing, no
new announcements regarding the medical facility have been made, but Minister
of Health Mark Scotland said Wednesday: “Government is working on fulfilling
our obligations in the agreement.” He added that among the key points being
worked on are registration of practitioners and an exclusivity clause to
Mr. Scotland said
legislation was being drafted to address these requirements.
The agreement stipulates
that the government will recognise Indian medical qualifications to allow for
the registration of medical staff working at the hospital. After the agreement
was signed, Mr. Scotland said other overseas medical qualifications would also
The deal also outlined that
no other large-scale medical tourism facility run by non-Caymanians could be
set up locally for five years after the new hospital opens.
Mr. Scotland said the Law
Reform Commission is also reviewing tort reform to limit malpractice claims,
and that this element of the agreement should be completed by late next month.
The agreement states that malpractice and medical negligence awards would be
limited to a maximum US$500,000 per person for non-economic loss.
“Government intends to bring
these proposed legislative amendments in November,” the minister said.
“It has been agreed by all
parties that several other requirements in the agreement can be fulfilled by
Cabinet directives, and these will be issued as and when required,” he added.
Mr. Scotland said government
officials had been meeting regularly with Mr. Thompson, the project attorneys
and Dr. Shetty’s representatives who, he said, had indicated they are
“satisfied with the time lines” the government is working on.
“Government remains fully
committed to the Shetty project and will continue to work with them to ensure
that the project comes to fruition as early as possible,” Mr. Scotland said.
“The project is expected to provide a much needed economic stimulus, as well as
improve access to tertiary level health care in the Cayman Islands, and we are
looking forward to it.”
At a press conference in
April, when the agreement was signed, Dr. Shetty said he hoped the project
could break ground as early as January 2011 and the first phase could be
operational by mid-2012.
The project will be
privately funded, with no financing from the government.
According to the agreement,
details of which were released publicly six weeks after the deal was signed,
the medical centre would be built in phases over 10 years and would include a
medical university and assisted living homes for seniors.
The first phase would
involve setting up a 200-bed hospital, at a cost of approximately US$150
million, not including the price of the land.
This initial phase would
provide tertiary care currently unavailable in Cayman, including open heart
surgery, cancer treatment, bone marrow transplants, nuclear medicine and organ
transplant, according to the agreement.
Dr. Shetty, who was Mother
Teresa’s heart surgeon, runs several hospitals in India, offering low-cost
medical care to Indians.
Critics of his plan to build
a hospital in Cayman to cater primarily to American medical tourists say the
high-volume, reduced-cost business model he uses in India will not work in
Cayman. However, at April’s press conference, Dr. Shetty insisted that as long
as the cost of operations in Cayman is less than in the US, Americans would
travel to Grand Cayman to undergo surgery. He said surgeries in Cayman would
cost about 60 per cent less than operations in the US.