Top story of 2014: Health City Cayman Islands opened

Nearly three-and-a-half years after a memorandum of understanding was signed by the government and heart surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health of India, Health City Cayman Islands celebrated its grand opening on Feb. 25.

The vision is to create a center of excellence in tertiary care at affordable cost for patients from the Caribbean and the Americas, and in the process, establish Cayman as a world-class destination for medical tourism.

The first phase of the project, which saw the construction of a 140-bed tertiary care hospital in the district of East End, aims to serve as a center of excellence in cardiac surgery, cardiology and orthopedics.

With 20 physicians on staff, more will be added when demand grows and new specialties are added. In total, Cayman Health City employs 139 staff.

Ultimately the plan is to expand the facilities over the next 15 years in several phases into a 2,000-bed hospital system that will include a hotel, a nursing school and medical university, a biotech research park and an assisted living community. Over time, medical specialty services such as oncology and neurology will be added.

The hospital welcomed the first patients in April. In June, a 55-year-old cruise ship tourist, who suffered a suspected heart attack, was treated at Health City Cayman Islands. And in July, the hospital’s chief surgeon, Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, and his team performed the first open heart surgery.

Health City also provided free heart surgery to the first four Haitian children that were brought to Cayman by U.S. charity Haiti Cardiac Alliance and “Have a Heart,” a philanthropic organization formed by Harry Chandi and Manu Chatlani.

During its first six months of operation, the joint venture between Narayana Health and U.S. healthcare provider Ascension Health treated 1,500 patients. About 400 were locally referred CINICO and Health Services Authority patients.

The Cayman Islands government is still considering a formal contractual agreement between its insurance company, its public hospital system and Health City Cayman Islands for the referral of government hospital patients. The debate sparked some concern whether such an agreement with Health City would increase or eliminate competition with other local medical service providers.

When the project was proposed, it was understood that it would be used exclusively for tertiary services and secondary specialty services that were not previously provided on island, such as pulmonary treatments, pediatric endocrinology and orthopedics.

Plans for 2015

Health City Cayman Islands is poised to enter the next phase of its development as early as next year. The objective is to break ground for a hotel and campus housing in the first half of 2015.

Marketing efforts, which in the first year focused on the Caribbean islands, will be expanded to Canadian and U.S. markets, which also draw most of the tourists and would thus be the obvious target for medical tourism services.

During the past year, demand for the hospital’s services increased steadily. There are no immediate plans to ramp up patient numbers and hospital capacity dramatically in the coming year.

There are currently 108 beds in the hospital; no plans to increase bed numbers, hospital size or additional facilities are scheduled for 2015.

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