Ascension quits partnership

After the dream of American medical tourists going to the Cayman Islands fails, Ascension sells out to Naryana.

US healthcare provider, Ascension, has pulled out of its partnership with Health City Cayman Islands, the East End hospital founded by Indian cardiac surgeon, Devi Shetty.

Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system and the largest Catholic health system in the world, has determined that the time is right for its Health City Cayman Islands partnership to end. Narayana Health now has total ownership of Health City Cayman Islands.

Ascension partnered with Narayana Health and the Cayman government in 2012 to develop Health City Cayman Islands (HCCI), as a 2000 bed magnet for US medical tourists. But the numbers never reached anywhere near the promised 17,000 a year as US insurers and patients stayed away. The hospital remains a 104-bed tertiary care hospital on Grand Cayman.

HCCI now targets locals and residents of the greater Caribbean region and beyond, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable. HCCI has provided free surgeries and procedures for more than 200 children from Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and other countries who otherwise could not afford treatment. Most recently, HCCI sent staff to neighbouring islands hit by this season’s hurricanes to provide needed medical care.

HCCI has served more than 46,000 patients since opening in 2014, with an initial focus on cardiac and orthopaedic procedures and later expanding into other services. HCCI treated patients from 60 countries in 2016. But the goal of kick-starting medical tourism in Cayman from North America has not been realised.