Sagicor Financial Corporation is to embark on the first phase of a $400-million, 20-acre retirement village and medical centre early next year, the insurance giant has announced.
Phase one will be the three-year construction of a retirement village at Boarded Hall, St George, for which approval from the Town and Country Planning Department has already been granted, it said. In the second phase a state-of-the-art medical complex is to be built “later in the year”.
Both independent living and assisted care will be available to more than 170 retirees 55 years and older.
“That has received government’s approval. We have actually gone out to tender for the infrastructure work on that project and we have received those tenders. That is in excess of US$100 million and we expect that this ground-breaking will start early in the first quarter [of 2019],” Chief Operating Officer of Sagicor Life Inc. Edward Clarke told the media during a breakfast meeting at the company’s Wildey office on Tuesday.
Planning for the medical complex, which will also cost roughly $200 million, was “still in the very early stages”, said Clarke.
“The medical complex is going to be a very high-end complex, very modern, and we expect once we get approvals for change of the use of that land, which we do hope to get shortly, we expect that we will start early in the new year to go out to do plans and for full approval from town planning. That obviously will come on later in the year,” he said.
The medical complex is to offer specialist heart disease and cancer care, which Sagicor executives say will put a dent in the medical bills of Barbadians and Caribbean nationals who would otherwise have to travel outside of the region for advanced treatment, Clarke declared.
“That is one of the reasons we are seeking to have a facility that we can lower the cost of excellent health care across the board. The cost of going overseas for medical care that is not available locally is very, very high.
“Our role is to try and provide top-class medical care at a cost that is more affordable than going to the USA or any other location for such care. These are going to be well-trained, appointed cardiovascular and oncology specialists,” he said.
Avoiding details, Clarke said Sagicor already had a “proposed partnership with a North American medical facility” to provide some of the services, while pointing out that “we will be involving a lot of local medical professionals in the complex”.
Sagicor’s research identified oncology and cardiovascular treatment as the two most needed at this time, but the company has not ruled out the possibility of adding neurology to the mix of specialized medicine in the future.
Patients will be able to pay for their treatment by self-funding or health insurance policy, the Sagicor Life boss said.
“The expectation is that we will be working with Government as well, because the government still does provide some [assistance for] international services for people if a service cannot be provided locally. Our expectation is that due to our lower cost it will be more accessible to more people,” he added.
He said the $400 million investment was “a sign” of Sagicor’s confidence that the economy is going to pick up.
“We are extremely confident that as the top insurance company in the region we need to participate in the provision of such health care and retirement living. We believe that it will spread throughout the Caribbean, and this is the first phase of doing such,” said Clarke.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Financial Corporation Dodridge Miller said the medical centre would help save critical foreign exchange.