Cabinet on Tuesday approved an extension of the 12-month agreement signed exactly a year ago with Dr. Devi Shetty about the proposed medical tourism hospital.
Health Minister Mark Scotland said: “Cabinet approved an amending agreement which extends the terms of original agreement past the 7 April expiry date, in essence giving both parties time to continue satisfying their obligations.”
The original agreement, signed on 7 April, 2010, included a 12-month deadline for the government to meet certain obligations, including the granting of building permits, planning approvals and various duty concessions and the passage of new and amended laws.
The local partner in the project, Gene Thompson, said both parties had agreed to the extension.
“We are aware that the extension has been approved and we’re very pleased about that. We are comfortable with where we are at and we are moving forward.
“We continue to have a very strong and good working relationship with the government and the Legal Department,” he said. Under the agreement, four laws needed to be introduced or amended before the hospital project would go ahead. So far, the government has passed the Health Practice Law, which enables medical staff trained in India and other overseas countries to practise in Cayman; the Tax Concessions (Amendment) Law, which exempts companies from potential future taxes; and the Medical Negligence (Non-Economic Damages) (Amendment) Law, which caps pain and suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice cases to $500,000.
The final piece of legislation, which will allow human organ and tissue donations and transplants to be done in Cayman, is being drafted.
The location of the hospital has not released, but the original agreement stated it would be situated on 500 acres in the eastern district of Grand Cayman. Under the terms of the deal, the government agreed to help with the rezoning application for the site.
The hospital, to be called the Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre, is expected to be built in three phases over 10 years and would include a medical university and assisted-living homes for seniors. It is expected to cater primarily to American patients coming to Cayman for heart or cancer treatments, which would be offered at about half the price charged in the United States.
The first phase involves a 150-bed hospital that will provide tertiary care currently unavailable in Cayman, including open-heart surgery, cancer treatments, bone marrow transplants and organ transplants.
Dr. Shetty has said the hospital would operate to standards set by healthcare accreditation organisation Joint Commission International. Recently, his heart hospital in Bangalore was granted Joint Commission International accreditation.
The Indian cardiologist, who was Mother Theresa’s physician, in November made a number of presentations in Cayman to business and medical professionals, outlining the benefits he said his medical centre would bring to Cayman. Those benefits would include access for Cayman residents to more medical care on Island, unlimited employment opportunities, the spending fallout from medical tourists and training and education opportunities at the project’s medical university, he said.
More details of the project are expected to be released at a press briefing scheduled for 14 April.