What the future holds for Health City

Sidebar Article: The buzz behind medical travel  

Health City Cayman Islands, launched early this year as a modern, multi-disciplinary hospital in the Eastern District of Grand Cayman, is poised to enter its next phase of development as soon as next year. 

The hospital’s Narayana Health executives, with the Indian company that conceived the institution, along with island leaders, say this pivotal next stage, beginning in 2015, could lead to a third pillar of the islands’ economy and new prestige in the growing global industry of medical tourism. 

Already, Cayman’s economy benefits from both international tourism and financial services.  

“But using Health City to help establish a medical travel and medical tourism industry could make for an even more stable and solid economy for Cayman residents,” says author and consultant Dr. Michael D. Horowitz, an American physician who, over the past 40 years, has helped define the international medical travel industry. 


What the future holds  

Since it first started taking patients in March, how has Health City progressed? And where do its strategic plans lead the institution in the year to come – and beyond? 

Joan Freedman, Health City’s patient care relations manager, worked with Shomari Scott, the hospital’s marketing director, and their boss, Dr. Chandy Abraham, chief executive officer and director of medical services, to answer a range of other questions about how Health City is doing and its vision of the future. 

From an undeveloped and forested site to its current 107,000 square feet of contemporary facilities, Health City certainly has evolved in its physical plant. Freedman says that more building is one of the first priorities. “We will soon enter phase two and will break ground for a hotel and campus housing in the next few months.” 

While the demand for hospital services has been steadily increasing, the marketing plan that Scott has set in place calls for more focus on much larger and more remote markets than Health City has focused on in its first eight months of operation. “Our marketing efforts are geared at the Caribbean islands at this time,” Freedman says.  

But Scott will aim next at reaching into the Canadian and U.S. markets, she points out. Those are the countries that supply the most tourists to Cayman, and it’s a natural that, with their residents’ interest in the Caribbean as a vacation site, promoting medical travel here would be a logical course. 

Still, the hospital has no plan to increase its capacity dramatically in the coming year. That will come later. There are now 108 beds in the institution and, according to Freedman, “no plan next year to increase bed numbers, the size of the hospital or to construct an additional hospital building.” 


Medical services  

That seems satisfactory for the range of medical services Health City now provides. They include cardiac services and cardiovascular thoracic services (including performing angioplasties in patients with risk of heart attack and stroke), as well as services for patients with lung and breathing difficulties. 

Beyond that, the hospital has specialists in oncology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric endocrinology, psychiatry and orthopedics. Freedman says the hospital will add specialties as market needs materialize. 

For now, there are 20 physicians on staff, and Freedman says the hospital will add more as needed and in response to the bed census and whatever new medical specialties it adds. The full range of human resources, though, is larger. Health City employs 139 and, likewise, will increase that number as the census increases and new specialties come aboard. 

Human resources, in fact, is often a difficult realm for hospitals, and there is an international market for skilled nurses, medical technologists and other trained personnel. Health City already has experience with the international employee marketplace. 

“Our goal is to be an international workforce and place. We have personnel from India, Cayman, the U.S., Great Britain and the Philippines,” she says. Studies have shown that the Philippines is the world’s greatest exporter of skilled medical personnel, especially nurses, whom the Pacific nation trains to take jobs across the globe.  

Meanwhile, according to Freedman, Health City has begun training Caymanians to do skilled jobs at the growing medical center.  

“We have an intern program for local students to help enlighten them in the various occupations within health care. And we have a university planned in the future, which will include a medical school, nursing school and other para-medical education.” 

Consultants note that securing a steady flow of skilled personnel is a big challenge for hospitals throughout the world. 

Still, Health City Cayman has big plans. How do the leaders there envision the hospital’s future in the longer term? Freedman’s response, summarizing CEO Dr. Chandy’s intentions, envisions: “a multi-specialty, multi-complex healthcare city, including education facilities, research facilities, 2,000 beds, campus housing, hotels and long- and short-term rehab and living facilities.” 


Health City Cayman Islands is poised to enter its next phase of development. – PHOTO: STEPHEN CLARKE