The Health City Cayman Islands management team has no regrets about opening the state-of-the-art hospital in East End but the location has proved to be the biggest lesson learned since the hospital opened seven years ago, Shomari Scott, the chief business officer at HCCI, said Friday. And so, with plans for a new state-of-the-art facility, this second hospital is going to be much closer to its patients.
At a press conference to announcing plans for a CI$100 million, cutting-edge facility for cancer treatment, which will be the first hospital in the region to offer bone marrow transplantation and CAR-T cell therapy, Scott said that expanding to where most people live and work allows for better treatment, especially when dealing with oncology.
“We understand the burden placed on patients who need to travel back and forth to East End for their care,” he said. “We want and need to make healthcare easier, more comfortable and more convenient.” Scott added that HCCI had “provided life-changing and life-saving medical care for the people of the Cayman Islands for nearly seven years” and that investing in a new hospital “is a reflection of our unwavering commitment” to the islands.
The advanced oncology department will include medical oncology, hemato-oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology. The hospital will also include a robust multi-specialty programme that will include robotic surgery, a neonatal intensive care unit, an emergency pavilion and critical care.
Dr Binoy Chattuparambil, HCCI Clinical Director and Senior Cardiac Surgeon, said that having a campus close to where the majority of people live and work would mean more lives saved, both adults and children.
“There are many incidences where time plays a significant role in the outcome of a treatment or even the life of a patient; heart attack, stroke and polytrauma are typical examples where time is life. Hours, minutes and seconds matter, so being centrally located will add much benefit to the quality of life and saving of many others,” he said.
“Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) will mean far fewer babies will have to travel overseas. Transporting a baby that requires urgent advanced medical care carries significant risk and can have a definitive adverse outcome, as time is very precious for these babies,” he added. “A facility close to George Town will greatly improve the outcome for these newborns.”
Even before the pandemic, less than 40% of HCCI patients were from overseas, and the hospital has found itself catering more and more to the local market, which has eliminated the need for patients living in Cayman to seek expensive care in the United States. Scott said that as a result, the need to be closer to the population has become very clear over the years since the East End facility opened.
HCCI founder Dr Devi Shetty, who joined the briefing via Zoom, said the goal of attracting patients from overseas remains but that the original protections of more than three-quarters of their patients being medical tourists was an estimate, and were made at a time when the team did not understand the realities on the ground. But now, with more experience, the new facility will enable Health City to offer a full suite of services and increase its attraction to those seeking affordable quality healthcare from all over the region.
Health City has not asked for any additional concessions outside of its original agreement and the services the expansion will provide continue to fall within the scope of the previously planned phases. The facility is estimated to take 12 to 18 months to complete, creating new jobs and contributing to economic stimulation both during construction and post-construction.
The hospital will be on Dart land but it is not clear whether HCCI will be buying or leasing that land. Scott said that the two parties were coming to an arrangement, and described Dart’s relationship with the hospital as a brand partnership rather than a tangible deal.
Health City is also intending to increase its presence in the Sister Islands with the opening of a clinic on Cayman Brac. HCCI physicians will provide much needed accessible specialist healthcare and alleviate the need for patients to travel to Grand Cayman for outpatient follow-ups and check-ups.
During construction of the new medical campus, Health City Cayman Islands will open a small satellite location within Camana Bay, for which it has already earmarked clinical space. This space will be integrated within the larger proposed facility when it is complete.