Health City Cayman Islands has announced that direct charter flights to St Maarten will bring patients from that country to the Cayman Islands for specialised medical treatment.
Following an agreement between Health City Cayman Islands and SZV Social & Health Insurances, the government-owned national health insurer in St Maarten, the weekly flights have been instituted with Cayman Airways using the Saab 340B+ which currently serves the national airline’s Cayman Brac route.
Dr. Chandy Abraham, CEO and Head of Medical Services at Health City Cayman Islands noted that the agreement is part of the hospital’s expanding reach across its target markets.
He said: “With the agreement with SZV Social & Health Insurances in St. Maarten, Health City Cayman Islands continues to grow our patient numbers and reach new markets to build medical tourism or, as we term it, destination healthcare in the Cayman Islands. We have ongoing operations in a number of Caribbean and Latin American markets, in addition to agreements with self-insured companies in the United States of America, and our dedicated office in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada.”
Dr. Abraham added: “International patient numbers continue to grow. Health City Cayman Islands treated international patients from more than 60 countries in 2016. As our third anniversary approaches on April 2, we have treated over 25,000 outpatients and close to 3,000 inpatients to date. Health City Cayman Islands has achieved these numbers while maintaining the highest quality of care standards, bringing medical innovation to the region, and continually expanding into new markets.”
As part of the agreement with SZV Social & Health Insurances, Health City Cayman Islands will provide tertiary healthcare to St. Maarten patients, who are awaiting treatment that is unavailable within the country.
Cayman Islands Premier and Minister of Health Alden McLaughlin observed the benefits that Health City Cayman Islands and medical tourism bring to the Cayman Islands economy.
“We hope to see the number of tourists significantly increasing as patients and their families come to the Cayman Islands for healing and care, meaning more money will enter our economy,” he said. “Health City also means jobs for Caymanians.”
Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell outlined what this opportunity means for tourism in the Cayman Islands.
He said: “Health City Cayman Islands is adding another dimension to our destination by playing a leading role in diversifying our tourism product to include medical tourism. Given the tremendous success Health City has achieved in a relatively short time, I have confidence that in addition to being the culinary capital of the Caribbean, our islands will also earn a reputation for being the Caribbean’s centre of health and wellness.”
Emil Lee, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Development for St. Maarten, discussed the benefits of the partnership for the people of St. Maarten.
He said: “Health City Cayman Islands provides St. Maarten residents with skilled medical personnel and leading edge diagnostic and surgical procedures and techniques, with proven success rates. The direct flights provide ease of access to St. Maarten residents, including a visa-free travel experience for citizens without the need for lengthy layovers. We see this as a beneficial partnership for both territories and look forward to its continuation.”
St Maarten Inspector General Dr. Earl Best mentioned the quality and safety of care provided at Health City Cayman Islands as a major factor in the agreement.
He said: “I personally visited Health City Cayman Islands over a year ago to investigate the quality of this institution first hand and returned home impressed with what I saw. The fact that Health City Cayman Islands is accredited by Joint Commission International, boasts skilled surgeons and high quality of outcomes, and English is spoken gives the people and government of St. Maarten the assurance that patients will receive excellent and compassionate care.”
Chief Operating Officer of SZV Social & Health Insurances Ramzy Dennaoui noted both quality and cost as integral to the agreement with Health City Cayman Islands.
He said that SZV is interested in a long term strategic partnership that will provide the highest quality of care while also giving value for money. Overall, he said SZV is working to get the best care that is closest to home for its clients. He explained that while lack of direct airlift formerly proved a logistical challenge, the charter flights to the Cayman Islands are providing greater ease of access for St. Maarten patients.
The inaugural flight left Grand Cayman for St. Maarten on Tuesday, March 28 at 9 a.m., with a brief re-fueling stop in Kingston, Jamaica before arriving in St. Maarten at 3:40 p.m. local time.
The return leg left St. Maarten with patients and SZV officials on board on Wednesday, March 29 at 9 a.m. St. Maarten time, and arrived in Grand Cayman at around 1:30 p.m. local time.
It is anticipated that the direct charter flights will continue for an initial period of six weeks, with approximately 20 people on board each flight. Once the schedule is completed, Health City Cayman Islands and SZV will decide on the continuation of the charter service.