EDITORIAL – Health City demonstrates healthy progress

On Tuesday on this opinion page we published a column by economist Richard W. Rahn on the U.S. media landscape, titled, “Bad news sells, but optimism wins.” File the subject matter of today’s editorial – Health City Cayman Islands – under the heading of “good news.”

Journalists, even hard-nosed ones, can recognize a positive trend when we see one, such as the steady stream of success stories that has been emanating from the East End health facility colloquially known as the Shetty Hospital.

Taken individually, the announcements rarely qualify as Page One material. But considered collectively, the cases of saved lives, repaired limbs and mended hearts weave into a single important narrative for our country: Health City’s steady progress toward its goal of establishing Cayman as a destination for world-class, affordable healthcare.

Let’s step back about a decade or so. When the initial announcements were made that globally renowned Indian surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty (Mother Teresa’s physician, dubbed “The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery” by the Wall Street Journal), intended to build, right here in Grand Cayman, a cutting-edge specialty hospital with few peers on the planet, it seemed too good, perhaps too strange, to be true.

Today, Health City is an established part of our landscape and our economy. The doctors, nurses and support staff either come from or have blended into our community, and are recognizable as friends and neighbors, that we chat with after church, in grocery stores, at school functions or during social events.

In fact, one of the medical center’s recent success stories began in just that manner. At church, Cayman Islands national rugby player Edward Westin and Health City Chief Orthopedic Surgeon and Joint Replacement Specialist Dr. Alwin Almeida began talking about Mr. Westin’s shoulder, which had been seriously damaged through years of repeated injuries.

“I have dislocated my shoulders multiple times over the last few years, and he said whenever I have a break in my playing just to get ahold of him and come down to Health City and get them checked out,” Westin said.

Earlier this month, the hospital announced that its orthopedic surgical team, under Dr. Almeida’s direction, had used a rare procedure to repair successfully Mr. Westin’s damaged shoulder.

It was almost certainly the first time the cutting-edge technique (a minimally invasive adaptation of a commonly used surgical procedure in orthopedics and sports medicine) was performed in the Caribbean, according to Health City. Dr. Almeida is one of only a few surgeons in the world who have been trained to perform it.

And this is only one of several announcements Health City has issued in recent months detailing groundbreaking treatments. The news releases from Health City that regularly hit our email inboxes describe life-changing episodes for patients and families, and, in the accumulation, track the “game-changing” growth of medical tourism in Cayman.

Next year’s addition of a multimillion-dollar cancer treatment center, the completion of residential units adjacent to the hospital, as well as long-overdue changes to local legislation to facilitate human tissue transplants, represent some of the next steps in Health City’s growth and development.

As a reminder, while Health City’s business model is to be a destination for medical tourists from overseas, Cayman’s residents reap two sets of benefits. First, the hospital increases local options for excellent and affordable healthcare (no plane tickets, hotel rooms or long-distance calls needed). Second, the hospital creates jobs and provides knock-on economic impacts, importantly centered on the less-developed eastern half of Grand Cayman.

We expect word to continue to spread across the world about the good work being done at Health City. That is good news for all of us.

(Disclaimer: Pinnacle Media publisher David R. Legge formerly consulted with the communications team for Dr. Shetty and the Health City developers. Before purchasing the Compass in 2013 with wife and co-publisher Vicki Legge, Mr. Legge ended all consultancy contracts, including with Health City, along with any arrangements that might present conflicts of interest with the newspaper and other publications.)

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