Health City: Incubator for rewarding careers

At the grand opening of Health City Cayman Islands in February 2014, Dr. Devi Shetty shared his dream that one day people seeking the best heart surgeon in the world would find their way to a Caymanian physician, working at his Grand Cayman hospital.

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Mason (stated ambitions: college, medical school, cardiac surgery) just may represent the fulfillment of Dr. Shetty’s vision. If not Nicholas, then perhaps one of his 15 classmates also studying full time at the hospital in East End. If not them, then perhaps the 170 Cayman high school students who will spend a week out at Health City this school year – or the more than 300 students Dr. Shetty wants to participate in the one-week program next year.

Following Dr. Shetty’s speech last February, we wrote an editorial which included the following: “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.” …

“[All students interested in health professions] 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.”

Nearly a year later, we are pleased to report the progress being made at Health City, and to observe the promise of Cayman’s future embodied by its intern program and young adults such as Mr. Mason.

The overall mission of Health City is nothing less than to effect a fundamental transformation of healthcare delivery globally, as evidenced by the partnership between Dr. Shetty’s India-based Narayana Health and U.S. Catholic healthcare giant Ascension.

However, from the moment Cayman was identified as a potential venue for the project, Caymanians have had in their corner a local champion who has steadfastly advocated (and tirelessly acted) for the advancement of his country’s people, through individual effort and honest work.

Gene Thompson is a modest man who would rather his name appear in the newspaper as seldom as possible (and preferably not at all). He prefers giving credit to others, as he did when he told the Compass about the teamwork involved in making the internship program a reality. The program simply couldn’t have materialized without the leadership of Health City’s government liaison Richard Parchment and the enthusiastic support of the Ministry of Education, headed up by Tara Rivers and her councillor Winston Connolly. This was a true private sector/public sector partnership.

Often times Cayman businesspeople (be they locals or expatriates) are disingenuous at best when they speak about creating Caymanian employment opportunities.
Not Mr. Thompson, who has been as serious and impactful as a Category 5 hurricane in demanding that Caymanians are included and benefit from his ventures. He insisted on using Caymanian construction crews (including some former inmates from Northward; skeptics said the plan would never work; it did); he set a goal of Health City’s having a staff makeup that is at least 30 percent Caymanian (it is); and now Health City has an internship program for engaging Caymanians students that should be a model for other businesses throughout the island.

Quite frankly, we don’t know what the future holds for Mr. Mason, his classmates or any of the Caymanians who embrace the opportunities presented by Health City. We certainly don’t know who will become the world’s greatest heart surgeon, an excellent nurse, administrative assistant or janitor.

What we do know with a high degree of confidence, however, is that not one single Caymanian who jumps on board early with Health City, and stays on track, is ever likely to find himself begging for a handout, lobbying for an entitlement, viewing Northward Prison from the inside out, or gracing the premises of the National Workforce Development Agency.

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