December 5, 2020

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Shetty’s hospital will be the envy of the Caribbean … Hospital will be open in 2013

(Left to right) Gene Thompson, Dr. A Raghuvanshi, and Dr. Devi Shetty

Groundbreaking on the 140-bed initial phase of Dr Devi Shetty’s Narayana Medical Centre and University is set for August this year, with the first patients admitted 12 months later.

Inauguration of the medical-school component of the project will start just after the August groundbreaking, with an intake of 100 students toward the end of the year, in cooperation with a local school while construction is under way at the Narayana centre.

At a Friday morning gathering at the offices of Gene Thompson, local director for the Shetty project and Director of the Thompson Development Group, Dr Shetty and three executives from his Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudayalaya delivered a progress report on the projected $2 billion, 2,000-bed hospital and medical college project, planned for 200 acres at East End’s High Rock.

“Groundbreaking will be in August this year, said Narayana CEO Dr A Raghuvanshi, “and will be complete in one year. We will start the medical school by the end of this year and take 100 students to start.”

He said the school would “start in a local institution, somewhere else, just to get us going quicker, within the next school year,” while construction on the Shetty school would be during “the next two years to three years.”

Both Mr Thompson and Dr Shetty declined to name the “local institution”, but did not deny it would be St Matthews University School of Medicine.

Dr Shetty, who left yesterday morning after his Tuesday arrival, said the school would train doctors, nurses and technicians, guaranteeing employment and enabling Cayman to build an indigenous healthcare industry.

“In the last seven years in the US,” he said, referring to a nationwide — and global — recession, “medicine is the only industry to have created jobs, between three million and four million.

“No country should have to depend on foreigners, but should be able to support its own healthcare.” The project, he said, “will drive the local, the Caribbean and the world economy. Doctors, nurses and technicians will always have jobs. The best gift you can give is training in medical services.”

The new hospital would eliminate the need for airlifts to Miami, Dr Shetty said, pointing to “two or three every day, and sometimes as many as seven, and you have to look at the costs, the inconvenience and the risks”.

Narayana would enable ”every man, woman and child to undergo major surgery without having to sell their assets”, providing affordable medical care to people throughout Cayman, the Caribbean and even North America.

Mr Thompson reviewed the East End land acquisition from landowner and entrepreneur Joe Imparato, who holds more than 600 acres at the site. In partnership with the Shetty project, he was likely to develop a range of ancillary facilities in the area, he said.

Surveys of the 200-acre Narayana portion of High Rock had already started, pending planning application for subdivision of the site.

“We are moving ahead aggressively with figuring out the planning,” Mr Thompson said. “The first application will be for ‘parcelisation’, then it should be sometime in May for the 140-bed hospital.”

Already, government has changed three laws – regarding medical qualifications, import duties and malpractice insurance — to enable the hispital, leaving only the issue of tissue transplants.

In the autumn, Minister for Health Mark Scotland had promised to complete both the legal changes and the regulations supporting the laws. Mr Thompson acknowledged yesterday that the timing had slipped, but was enthusiastic about progress.

“It’s all just about complete now,” he said. “We had a number of meetings and we are comfortable to proceed now”. Government “had been very cooperative to enable us to move ahead,” and was likely to finish “in the first part of the year”.

Dr Shetty acknowledged that legislative changes were difficult, but, compared to other governments, he said, The Cayman Islands government works very fast.

“We have met all the officials and it’s been a real joy working with the Cayman Islands government.

“Our intention is to change the rules of the game. We want to build a centre of excellence, and people will come not because it is cheap, but because it is the best,” he said.

(Photo by: Christopher Tobutt)

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