St. Louis-based Ascension is discontinuing its role as a co-owner of Health City Cayman Islands, a 104-bed tertiary care hospital on Grand Cayman Island. Ascension said in a press release that it had determined that the time is right for its five-year partnership to transition to full ownership by Narayana Health of India.
Health City Cayman Islands
Ascension, Narayana Health and the Cayman Islands government had agreed in 2012 to establish the health city campus to provide "high-quality, low-cost" tertiary health care services to the islands, according to the release. At the time the collaboration began, Ascension and Narayana Health said their venture would in time include a for-profit hospital, medical and allied health school, biotech park and assisted living facility.
Health City's website says its strategic plan calls for it to grow to 2,000 beds. The website says Health City plans to build an academic medical center and biotech research facility, add the assisted living facility, and build two hotels for patients and family members to stay in before and after inpatient procedures.
In the release about its exit from ownership, Ascension said it plans to maintain a close relationship with Narayana Health and with Dr. Devi Shetty, its chairman and director, but it did not specify what that relationship would include.
John Doyle, executive vice president of Ascension and president and chief executive of Ascension Holdings and Ascension Holdings International, said in the release that Ascension's goal in the partnership was to "address unmet needs of residents of the greater Caribbean region and beyond, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable, while exploring ways to learn about different approaches to providing health care that might benefit our facilities in the United States and worldwide."
Ascension has 141 hospitals in the United States. Health City was part of Ascension Holdings, an Ascension subsidiary that is under the system's Solutions Division. Ascension Holdings houses companies providing facilities and project management, group purchasing and other services. Ascension Holdings International is "focused on diversifying Ascension's financial platform, gaining broad exposure and early access to … innovative ideas from other parts of the world," according to information from Ascension.
As Catholic Health World went to press, Ascension was not commenting beyond the press release. The two partners have not specified how much capital each of them has invested. The release did not say when Ascension would finalize its withdrawal from the joint venture.
Since Ascension and Narayana Health opened the Health City hospital in 2014, it has treated about 46,000 patients from dozens of countries and earned Joint Commission accreditation.
Health City has three operating theaters, an intensive care unit, a laboratory, imaging suite and other facilities. Initially Health City focused on cardiac and orthopedic procedures. It has expanded into other services, including weight loss surgery, colorectal surgery, dental services, oncology, neurology, spinal surgery, thoracic surgery and urology.
Since Ascension originally announced its intention to invest in the construction and operation of Health City, it has positioned it in part as a learning laboratory, where Ascension leadership and others in the system could learn from Shetty's cost-containing methods, and where Health City associates could learn from Ascension.
Shetty's approach is to standardize medical procedures to bring costs down, so that care is more accessible to people who normally could not afford it. The entrepreneur founded the 5,000-bed Narayana Health City Bangalore in Bangalore in 2001 to "transform health care in India, a country where very few were able to pay for its cost," according to information from Health City's website.
Shetty's Narayana Health now includes 23 hospitals in 18 cities, with most of the hospitals in India.
Ascension has provided resource and supply management and biomedical engineering services to Health City through Ascension's Solutions Division, and several Ascension clinicians and executives have traveled to the hospital to share evidence-based protocols and study construction techniques.
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