Dr. Devi Shetty has partnered with a major American health company to create his proposed medical tourism hospital in Grand Cayman.
On behalf of his Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals of India group, the cardiologist signed a “document of public commitment” Wednesday, 4 April, with Ascension Health Alliance, the largest Catholic and nonprofit health organisation in the United States.
The agreement was also signed by Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush and Minister of Health Mark Scotland, although the hospital will be a private enterprise with no government ownership.
Anthony Tersigni, president and chief executive officer of St. Louis, Missouri-based Ascension Health Alliance, said his group had been working with Dr. Shetty for two years to “explore ways to adapt this success at providing high-quality health care at low cost”.
Ascension will own part of the new hospital in Cayman under the partnership deal and will handle group purchasing, facilities management and biomedical engineering services, while Dr. Shetty’s group will manage the running of the hospital.
It has been exactly two years since the Cayman Islands government signed a memorandum of understanding with Dr. Shetty to create the US$2 billion hospital, which the developers say will eventually hold 2,000 beds and cater to patients from the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as offering tertiary care to patients in Cayman. The first phase, scheduled to break ground in August and to be open next year, will consist of 140 beds.
Ascension manages more than 17,000 beds spread across 1,400 locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia in the US, while Dr. Shetty’s group has 14 hospitals in 11 cities, with almost 5,600 beds.
Dr. Shetty said the combined purchasing and negotiating power of the two groups would impact the costs involved in building a new hospital, purchasing and servicing equipment, and buying drugs and disposable items.
He said that there was already an agreement in place with three major medical equipment suppliers to sell the new hospital in Cayman equipment at the same price as Narayana pays in India. “In India, we buy medical equipment at a much lesser price than you pay in America or in the Caribbean,” he said.
The combined human resources of the two groups would also immediately provide staff for the Cayman hospital, said Dr. Shetty, despite a worldwide shortage of medical personnel. “Together, we have enough workforce to hire for this hospital in the Cayman Islands and make it a world-class hospital, without putting a single advertisement in the newspaper asking for people to join,” he said.
However, he said that medical training facilities would be established in Cayman, so local staff could also get jobs at the hospital. He said his group had partnered with the University College of the Cayman Islands to train medical professionals in Cayman and the Caribbean region.
Speaking at a press briefing at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman last week, Ascension’s Dr. Tersigni said: “Together we are committed to bring first-rate health care, provided in a world-class setting.”
Dr. Tersigni said he hoped the collaboration between Ascension and the Narayana groups would not only benefit Cayman and the Caribbean region, but also impact how health care is delivered in the United States, as his organisation learns from Dr. Shetty’s innovative approach in India to providing low-cost, quality care.
Dr. David Pryor, executive vice president of Ascension Health Alliance, will lead Ascension’s clinical involvement in the Cayman Islands hospital project. Dr. Tersigni said Dr. Pryor would work closely with the Shetty team to help “test and validate methods of proving high quality health care at a lower cost in a completely new setting. At the same time, the Narayana team will learn how their approach can be adapted to the standards and practices of American health care.”
The Shetty hospital is slated to be built on 200 acres of High Rock in East End. Last month, the developers of the project hired local firm Clan Construction to build the hospital, which Dr. Shetty describes as a “health care city”, similar to facilities he has already built in India, which offer low-cost medical care to cancer and cardiology patients.
The proposed health care city in Cayman will include a tertiary care hospital, an educational facility, a biotech park and an assisted living facility. According to the Shetty group, the hospital will eventually offer open heart/bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart-valve replacement, cancer treatment, bone-marrow transplant, organ transplant and orthopaedics.