Members of UCCI’s inaugural nursing class celebrate receiving their nursing pins at a ceremony last October. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Officials at the University College of the Cayman Islands are in the planning stages for construction of a school to house their fledgling nursing program.

Funds have been allocated for the new structure, which is anticipated to be built adjacent to the UCCI library and completed as early as December 2019.

But hints from the Ministry of Education that Health City Cayman Islands may be planning to build its own nursing school – possibly as part of a proposed medical school – have left the UCCI board of governors uncertain as to how to proceed.

Board chairman Anthony Ritch said he and others are seeking more information on Health City’s plans and hope to meet with officials there in the next two weeks.

At a board meeting Wednesday, May 30, Mr. Ritch said he worries that if both entities establish their own nursing schools, they might be in competition.

“I don’t believe that Cayman is big enough to have two competing nursing schools,” Mr. Ritch said.

In such a situation, he said, Health City would likely end up on the winning side because of its greater resources.

Health City officials said they have no immediate plans to break ground on a nursing school. The hospital has said in the past that it hopes to eventually establish a medical school.

In an email, spokeswoman Christina Trumbach said, “Health City remains involved in the UCCI nursing program, and has long-term plans to develop medical teaching facilities at its East End campus.”

Shomari Scott, Health City’s director of business development, said the medical school is the focus looking forward.

“Our future plans are looking towards a medical university and not necessarily a nursing school,” Mr. Scott said in an email. “We have worked with the UCCI on their nursing program and look forward to this continued collaboration, and should they need any help in their current future planning, we continue to be very willing to help partner with them in any way possible.”

He said coordination will be important as the two partners move forward.

“As we are still in the relatively early stages for our phased approach, we plan to meet with the UCCI shortly in order to jointly discuss each other’s vision,” he said.

UCCI President Roy Bodden said he thinks there has been a good synergy between the two entities and he hopes the partnership continues.

“The University College can’t be all things for all persons,” Mr. Bodden said. “Health City already has a reputation for excellence and we have shown we can run a successful [nursing] program.”

It seems logical, he added, for the two organizations to continue to work together.

“It doesn’t make sense for two entities to be offering [nursing programs],” he said. “We couldn’t operate on a commercially viable scale. UCCI’s program would likely have to close.”

UCCI’s plans for a nursing school are in the final stages of planning approval, Mr. Ritch said. Ground could be broken on the project by the end of the year, he said, if it makes sense to do so.

“We’re excited about the plans for this building,” Mr. Ritch said. “We want it to be a success. But we don’t want to start anything that doesn’t have legs and isn’t viable in the long term.”

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