Shetty hospital makes inroads

After several delays to the start of the Shetty hospital construction, the devlopers are confident that 2012 will see the project take off. 

The local partner in the Shetty hospital project, Gene Thompson, says 2012 will be the year the medical tourism centre gets off the ground. 

Thompson was upbeat that the project was on track, with planning applications for sub-divisions already under way, and said the ground-breaking for the site would happen before the middle of next year. 

“We’ve purchased the property, we’ve cut the access road and are moving ahead with planning for the subdivision for parcels,” Thompson said. 

The group has also signed memoranda of understanding for heavy infrastructure needs for the project – for air conditioning and water, he said. 

“We are going to start no later than the middle of next year – 2012 will be the year,” Thompson insisted. 

The developers of the Shetty hospital – official name, Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre – finalised the initial purchase of land at the High Rock area of East End last month. They intend to apply for a mixed-use planned area development of the site. 

Plans to buy the site were revealed in September 2011 when owner Joseph Imparato announced that instead of using the land for a proposed sea port – a project that raised much opposition and controversy locally – it would be the home of the new hospital and its related facilities. The site is 600 acres, but only a portion of that has been initially purchased. 

Imparato’s City Services (Cayman) Ltd., will be a co-developer of the project, working with the Shetty group to develop support facilities, such as hotel and residential accommodation. 

In a 24 November news release, the developers said the project
had initially “acquired a portion of Imparato’s property with an option to purchase more as needs demand”.  

Once the subdivisions of the site is approved, the developers can go ahead with applying for a Planned Area Development project. Under the Planning Law, which was amended last year, planned area developments are master planned developments of large tracts of land that are at least 40 acres in size and provide for a mix of land uses, densities and open space. Planned area developments may be considered when a proposed master plan is submitted to the Central Planning Authority for approval.  

The Shetty “health city”, which is expected to be built in phases over the next 15 years, will include a hospital, assisted-living homes, a biotech research centre and a medical education facility.  

Start dates for the project have been moved a number of times, since it was first announced at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Cayman Islands Government and Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty in April 2010. 

At that signing ceremony and press conference, the ground-breaking date was predicted for January this year, with the first phase becoming operational by mid-2012. By April 2011, the developers said construction would begin in September or October this year. 

The first phase involves a 140-bed tertiary care hospital that would cater mostly to American patients travelling to Cayman for heart surgery, cancer treatments and transplants. Eventually, the facility would grow to be a $2 billion, 2,000 bed hospitals, the developers have said. 

All its senior surgeons and medical staff would be recruited initially from the United States, Shetty said at the time. 

Before Shetty would move ahead with the establishment of the hospital, according to the memorandum of understanding, the Cayman Islands government had to amend or create several pieces of legislation, including the Health Practice Law, which enables medical staff trained in India and other overseas countries to practise in Cayman; the Tax Concessions (Amendment) Law, which exempts companies from potential future taxes and the Medical Negligence (Non-Economic Damages) (Amendment) Law, which caps pain and suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice cases to $500,000. 

Regulations relating to the amended legislation are still being hammered out. 

A final piece of legislation, which would allow human organ and tissue donations and transplants to be done in Cayman, has not yet been finalised.  

“We are working very closely with government to finalise everything and to get the process to where it needs to be,” Thompson said. 

Shetty is expected to visit Cayman in early January for four days.