Top Stories of 2012: Shetty hospital breaks ground

Sixteen months after signing an agreement with the Cayman Islands government to set up a medical tourism hospital in Grand Cayman, Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty joined local partners and government officials in August this year to break ground at the project in East End. 

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of guests, Dr. Shetty said he did not want his hospital to be known as the cheapest, but the “safest hospital in this part of the world”, which would use the latest technology in healthcare. 

“We believe that within five years, software will make smarter diagnoses than doctors. We believe within 10 years, it will become legally mandatory for every doctor to get a second opinion from software before starting treatment,” said Dr. Shetty, adding that he anticipated that this would happen even earlier in his hospital.  

He also anticipated that once the hospital is up and running, Cayman would be as famous for its medical care as it is now for its scuba diving. 

Dr. Shetty and his local partners expect the first phase of the $2 billion project to be operational in early 2014. The first phase consists of a 140-bed tertiary care hospital. 

 

Partnership 

In April last year, Dr. Shetty partnered with one of the United States’ largest nonprofit healthcare companies, Ascension Health Alliance to build and manage the proposed hospital in East End. Ascension would provide facilities planning, supply chain management and biomedical engineering services, while Dr. Shetty’s group will run the hospital.  

Ascension Healthcare Alliance manages more than 17,000 beds spread across 1,400 locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Dr. Shetty’s group has 14 hospitals in 11 cities, with almost 5,600 beds.  

The first phase of the $2 billion project, known officially as Health City Cayman Islands, is the construction of a 140-bed tertiary care hospital, which is scheduled to be operational in early 2014. According to the developers, once the entire hospital is complete in 15 years, it will have 2,000 beds.  

While the main focus of the hospital is to attract medical tourists from the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States, the hospital’s facilities, which will include cancer treatment, open heart and bypass surgeries, organ transplants, angioplasty and orthopaedics, will also be available to local patients who may no longer need to travel off island for such treatments.  

 

Planning permission 

The project was the first to use amended planning laws that enable a developer to submit an application for “Planned Area Development”, or PAD, which is a master planned large tracts of land of at least 40 acres that provide for a mixture of land uses, densities and open space. So far, the developers have submitted three PAD applications for the site, as well as individual planning applications. 

The local developer involved in the construction of Health City Cayman Islands, Gene Thompson, told the Chamber of Commerce’s Future of Cayman forum in November that by the time the hospital is fully operational, 90 local doctors and 900 local nurses would be among the staff. Initially however, he anticipated that three local doctors and 10 local nurses would be working at the hospital when its first phase of 140 beds opens late next year.  

 

Free operations 

Dr. Shetty returned to Cayman in late November to announce that his group would carry out 100 free heart surgeries in India for any cardiac patient from the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean or Latin America. The surgeon said the offer of free operations, to be carried out at his hospital in Bangalore was open to children mainly, but also to mothers of young children and the breadwinners in families.  

The donation of the surgeries included the operation, meals and accommodation for a patient and one relative, but does not include the cost of the flight to Bangalore.  

At the 30 November press conference during which he announced his plan to carry out 100 free operations, Dr. Shetty met up with 6-year-old Leonisha Lofters for the first time since he operated on her heart in Bangalore two 
years ago. 

Dr. Shetty and his local partners expect the first phase of the $2 billion project to be operational in early 2014. 

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