Health City opens expanded intensive care unit

Dr. Devi Shetty, founder of Health City Cayman Islands, speaks at the official opening of the East End facility's new Intensive Care Unit. - Photo: David R. Legge

Trauma patients will now have a better chance of surviving, said Health City officials, as they unveiled an expansion of their medical intensive care unit on Monday morning with a ribbon-cutting.

“Essentially, this will save lives,” said Dr. Devi Shetty, founder of Health City Cayman Islands and a string of successful hospitals across India.

The expanded unit includes more beds for specialized care, a resuscitation room and a dedicated operating room equipped with a heart bypass machine. To meet the international standards of a Level 3 trauma center, it will be staffed 24 hours a day by a specialized staff of doctors and medical personnel.

Dr. Shetty said the close proximity of the unit’s components are key in keeping patients alive.

“A few seconds can make a difference,” he said, as dignitaries and government leaders toured the newly outfitted rooms. “These are generally not sick people. They’ve been in an accident. We can resuscitate them in a few minutes.”

If that is successful, they can be wheeled in seconds into the adjacent operating room, where doctors can provide acute care.

The expanded service, Dr. Shetty said, will also mean fewer patients will need to be flown off-island to receive intensive care, and he expects it will attract patients needing such care from other areas of the Caribbean where those kinds of services are unavailable.

Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, clinical director for Health City, said the expanded ICU is in keeping with the hospital’s goal of improving Cayman and the region’s healthcare, while at the same time keeping costs down.

Cutting the ribbon on Health City’s new ICU are, from left, Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell and Dr. Devi Shetty. – Photos: Stephen Clarke

“This will make a big change,” Dr. Chattuparambil said. “We can compare with the best ICUs in the world. We have the personnel and staff with experience in treating patients.”

Among the 21 beds in the unit, four are negative pressure isolation rooms for patients with infections that need to be contained.

Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour was among the dignitaries attending the ribbon cutting, along with Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and others.

Mr. Seymour said since opening in 2014, Health City has been an important addition to healthcare in Cayman. He said officials are in the process of working out more cooperative efforts between the East End facility and the government’s Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.

“We’re working on some initiatives with Health City being the driver and taking us in the right direction,” Mr. Seymour said. “There’s a lot of opportunity there.”

He believes a better partnership would save the government money. Currently, he said, his ministry has to request additional funding nearly every quarter due to unanticipated increases in healthcare costs. One of the considerations, he said, is creating a capitated system where doctors are paid a flat salary regardless of the number of patients they treat.

Additional beds and personnel have been added to make Health City’s new ICU a Level 3 trauma center.

In one recent cost-saving exercise, Mr. Seymour said, he and other officials determined they might be able to save $10 million to $15 million per year. He said he could not provide details of the exercise.

He said he’d be happy to see such savings apportioned elsewhere.

“We look forward to when we can divert some of the money we’re using for [the Ministry of] Health and give it to Minister O’Connor-Connolly for education,” Mr. Seymour told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting.

Dr. Shetty said the improved ICU is just one step in adding services at Health City. He said there are plans to provide a major oncology program with its own dedicated building, as well as to launch a training program for nurses.

“We have to start cancer services with radiation therapy,” he said. “If people from here have to go to the U.S. or somewhere else, it’s very expensive.”

He also said Health City plans to be on the forefront of using technology for remote patient care. Rather than traveling for an office visit, he said, apps on a patient’s phone will be able to allow them to interface in real time with a physician and receive the information and evaluation they need in many cases.

It’s another service that would not be limited to the shores of Cayman, further encouraging not only regional care, but medical tourism when it comes to those needing clinical care.

“By economy of scale, we will be able to reduce the price, improve the quality [of care] and save millions of lives across the world,” Dr. Shetty said. “This is just the beginning.”

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