Prior to Tuesday’s official opening of Health City Cayman Islands, 2,200 local schoolchildren were given an exclusive glimpse of the medical development.
During the open house, the question was posed: How many of you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare? Some 300 indicated, yes, they were.
Now the question for the adults: What are we going to do to prepare our children for success in this field — or any other?
If the Shetty hospital will be, in fact, the “third pillar” of Cayman’s economy, we must acknowledge that our country did not take full advantage of the first two — financial services and tourism. Cayman must not miss such an opportunity again.
After Bill Walker founded his law firm in 1964, government evidently foresaw the potential of the offshore financial industry, passing framework legislation two years later.
At that moment of recognition, the country should have begun to invest enormous amounts of time, energy and (as the revenue stream turned into a flood) money in the education of Cayman’s youth so they would be prepared to succeed in the industry when the time came. That didn’t happen.
When Ben Torchinsky and his local team opened the Hyatt Britannia Resort in 1987, the hotel set a new standard for Caribbean development and opened the gateway of upscale luxury travel to Cayman.
At that pivotal moment, again Cayman did little — except perhaps to inculcate in our children that “those kind of jobs” were ones from which Caymanians should shy away.
Health City is Cayman’s third opportunity. We don’t know if there will be another one, but we do know that there will never be a better one with a group of people more willing to welcome Caymanians into a new industry than Dr. Devi Shetty, Gene Thompson and Harry Chandi at Health City.
During Tuesday’s opening, Dr. Shetty shared his dream that in a decade, people Googling for the best heart surgeon in the world will find their way to a Caymanian working at his hospital, which itself will be the best in the world.
Dr. Shetty and his local partners have set the table for Caymanians. If we don’t show up academically and attitudinally prepared, we’ll forever be the proverbial “beggars at the banquet.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin has previously stated that, even with stubbornly high unemployment, there are hundreds of jobs available — such as domestics, gardeners or caregivers — “which Caymanians have generally expressed little interest in filling.”
The first thing that needs to change is that attitude. Health City is an opportunity for Caymanians, not an entitlement. Any open door has the potential to lead to a rewarding career.
We expect that Dr. Shetty will accept nothing less than world-class performance from each worker at Health City, be they gardeners, nurses, administrators or physicians.
As of today, the schools should be identifying the 300 children interested in healthcare.
They should be encouraged in every way, including tailoring curriculum and fostering protégé-mentor relationships with Cayman’s healthcare professionals, both within Health City and without.
Health City is starting to roll down the tracks. Caymanians need to jump on board — right now — before it picks up speed and leaves us behind.