2012-06-19 Encouraging signs for hotels[+]
2012-05-16 Dallas flights to boost tourism [+]
2012-05-16 Cayman Islands market update [+]
Shetty: New Medical School Opening
Cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty announced plans to open his own medical school within an existing facility in Cayman this year.
Dr. Shetty and his team from India made a four-day visit to Grand Cayman last week and said they were expediting plans to create a medical school as part of the proposed medical tourism project by basing the school in another institution. Dr. Shetty did not disclose in which institution the medical school would be based. He said the team has received offers, but the deal had not been “tied down”.
Dr. A. Raghuvanshi, managing director of Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals, the group behind the project, said: “By the end of this year, the coming academic year, we should start a medical school that will take about 100 students.” The group also announced plans to break ground in August on the medical tourism project in East End.
In the original plan, the medical school was to be based at the hospital and would become operational after the first phase of the hospital launched.
“It is our plan to work with a current local institution to get it going quicker,” said local partner Gene Thompson. “In the [initial] plan, the medical school was not supposed to start until the third or fourth year. We decided to expedite that.” Describing the healthcare sector as “recession-proof”, Dr. Shetty said: “If we can train people to become doctors, nurses or technicians, they will never be out of jobs,” he said, explaining there was a shortage of between three and four million jobs in the health industry worldwide.
With about 700 students graduating from high school in the Cayman Islands every year, the India-based doctor predicted one in seven would enter the medical field if a medical school for local students was based in the Caribbean territory.
However, the projected time line of accepting students for the new medical school by September, the beginning of the academic year, may be premature. Health minister Mark Scotland told the Caymanian Compass he had spoken with education minister Rolston Anglin about the possibility of the University College of the Cayman Islands partnering with Dr. Shetty’s project, but no discussions had yet been held between Dr. Shetty and the government on that specific matter.
“We didn’t get to have a meeting on that this time, but the next time they’re here, we will be discussing that,” Mr. Scotland said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to work something out.”
Minister Scotland said he was not sure if the medical school could be up and running by September “unless something happens very quickly, within the next time they are here”. He said UCCI already planned to start nursing courses at the university beginning in September and perhaps the Shetty project could tie in with those.
President of UCCI Roy Bodden said he was not aware of any plans to team with the Shetty project to open a medical school at the university.
At a news conference held Friday, 6 January, visiting officials of the Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals and local partners Gene Thompson and Harry Chandi also revealed the hospital would be built on a 200-acre section of a 600-acre lot at High Rock in East End. The hospital and associated facilities would be built on the 200 acres, purchased recently from Joseph Imparato, who plans to develop the remaining 400 acres with supporting infrastructure, such as a hotel. Dr. Shetty said the Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre, known locally as the Shetty Hospital, would begin accepting patients in August 2013, if everything goes according to plan. He also said although he had earlier said the hospital would target medical tourists from America, the hospital would also now focus on attracting patients from the Caribbean and South and Latin America.
“This is not built as a medical tourism destination for Americans ... The target is not them. We would love to treat them, we will definitely be treating them, but we don’t want to build the concept of the entire edifice based on American tourists. They’re one of them. This is a very large project, you can’t build a project of this nature dependent on one market,” Dr. Shetty said. The project, first announced in April 2010, has faced some delays as the government changed or created several pieces of legislation to pave the way for the hospital, the first phase of which will have 140 beds. According to the memorandum of understanding signed with the Cayman Islands government, the hospital aims to eventually have 2,000 beds.
Mr. Thompson said most of the regulatory issues have been settled and the group was “comfortable we are able to proceed and move the project forward without any further hesitation”.
Still outstanding on the legislative and regulatory front is a law governing the harvesting of human organs and tissue, which Mr. Scotland said he expected would be brought before the Legislative Assembly by the first or second quarter of this year, as well as companion regulations to the Health Practice Law regarding the registration of overseas medical staff.
“I think compared to other governments in the world, the Cayman government has really worked very fast. Always, things could have been done faster, but this is the best anybody could do, but ... changes take a long time,” Dr. Shetty said.
Dr. Shetty said it had been “a joy” working with the Cayman Islands government.
A survey and subdivision process, the forerunner to applying for planning permission for the multi-phase hospital project, began in December, Mr. Thompson told reporters.
No local general contractor has been hired for the project. A decision on who will work on building the hospital will be made when the project applies for planning permission this spring, Mr. Thompson said. The project is anticipated to be a mixed-use planned area development application, which applies for mixed usage of the land, thereby negating the need to apply for rezoning permits.
Dr. Shetty said he already had all investment for the project in place, but was looking for “strategic partners” which he described as partners within the healthcare industry who would not be looking to exit the project within five to seven years.
Source: Caymanian Compass (January 9, 2012) By: Norma Connolly