New tourism hospital getting limited concessions

Cabinet Secretary Sam Rose (center) and Project Leader Gene Thompson sign the agreement for the Aster Cayman Medcity proposal with Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie and Health Secretary Dwayne Seymour (left) and Premier Alden McLaughlin (standing)

(CNS): A second proposed medical tourism project has been given the go-ahead by the government, but this hospital will not receive the concessions granted to Health City Cayman Islands. With the exception of duty exemptions for medical care, Aster Cayman Medcity does not receive any concessions or special treatment in relation to work permits for medical personnel during the development phase.

The proposal is led by Gene Thompson in partnership with Aster DM Healthcare, which operates hospitals, diagnostic centers, medical centers and pharmacies in India and the Middle East. It was founded in 1987 in the United Arab Emirates by Dr. Azad Moopen and is registered in India.

This proposal was first presented to the government earlier this year. Answering questions from the CNS in October, Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour said any new medical tourism project would have to be different from Health City Cayman Islands. However, Thompson also worked on HCCI, a very similar concept.

While a location has not yet been determined and the planning process has not yet begun, Thompson said at a press conference Monday that he expected hospital development to lay the foundation by mid-next year. According to Thompson and his Aster partners, the proposed $ 350 million project will begin with a 150-bed hospital, with long-term plans for an assisted living facility and medical school.

These were also promised when HCCI was announced, but no additional facilities have been added so far. Health City has endeavored to attract the number of overseas patients considered when it opened, even with world famous cardiac surgeon Dr. Focus on Devi Shetty. However, the facility has proven to be a significant health benefit for Cayman, in that many more patients were admitted on-site than originally proposed, particularly those who would otherwise need treatment overseas.

While the hospital has not made any significant contribution to the North American market, it has attracted patients from across the region, which has made the project profitable. Officials recently confirmed to the CNS that Health City attracted around 60% of its patients from overseas prior to COVID-19, despite Dr. Shetty had said it had reached 70% at one point.

Seymour had said before that this would have to be the minimum target for international patients before the government licenses another medical tourism establishment.

Those involved in the new project are promising jobs and training for caimans and a boost for the local economy with the arrival of patients and medical staff. However, officials hope the Cayman Islands will become a regional hub for medical tourism with two state-of-the-art hospitals. However, this is clearly a very long-term investment for the partners involved in Dubai.

When Prime Minister Alden McLaughlin endorsed the facility, he confirmed that the letter of intent signed by the government will be a public document, although it has not yet been made public.

“Under this agreement, Aster will use local contractors and service providers during construction. In addition, the company will employ suitably qualified caimans during the various construction phases and when the facilities are put into operation, ”said the Prime Minister, noting that those who come from another location to work in the hospital will need houses to rent or buy so will spending in the local economy.

Under the agreement, Aster will implement an educational program for local students interested in health care. “They will also fund an annual scholarship … at $ 50,000 per year for two years and $ 75,000 per year for the next two years and $ 100,000 for the fifth year,” the prime minister said .

In addition, Aster has announced that it will set up a clinic on Cayman Brac with support services such as telemedicine and an infusion center.

For more information and full comments from the Prime Minister and the Minister, see the CNS library

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