Fully-equipped echocardiology program will now provide full range of cardiology services
Today, the country’s only public tertiary care hospital hosted the opening of a diagnostic echocardiography (echo) laboratory which will enhance their capability to provide a full range of cardiology services to the wider public.
The cardiology program – which is the first in Belize – was made possible courtesy of a partnership that was established between the North Carolina HealthCare System’s International Medical Outreach (IMO) Program and the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), and is fully-equipped to perform both diagnostic and interventional services.
The program – which initially was not equipped with the necessary technology to deliver cardiac services – is now able to offer echocardiographs, cardiac catheterizations and open heart surgeries, which will be supported via equipment donations and personnel training through the IMO Program.
Dr. Adrian Coye, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Medical Services Director at KHMH, noted that since the donation of a mobile catheterization laboratory in 2011, the KHMH has performed more than 120 cardiac catheterizations and 16 heart surgeries, including the first open heart surgery in the country. He said that the new echo laboratory will allow KHMH to more than double the number of patients diagnosed with heart problems each week, and will drastically reduce patients’ wait time for an echo test from months to weeks or even days.
Dr. Coye described the occasion as a “very exciting” time for the hospital which came about due to a huge collective effort. “Within three years, our evolving program has resulted in many first time events for the hospital and for Belize, an outcome of careful planning, upholding high clinical standards and partnering with generous supporters like the IMO Program,” said Coye.
Echocardiography machines are used to diagnose and help prevent heart problems; however, they are not readily available in Central America. Hence, patients either receive no treatment or must travel to foreign countries for the same care. The IMO Program helps public hospitals treat patients in their home countries, at very low or no cost by providing the machines and training technicians to operate them.
Since 2012, eight echo laboratories – which are equipped to capture and send patients’ heart images to cardiologists nationwide or worldwide should the hospital require additional consultation – have been installed in rural hospitals in Guatemala, El Salvador and now Belize through the IMO Program.
Dr. Francis Robicsek, PhD, MD, Vice President of the IMO Program, gave the main address. “The outcomes and services of the cardiology program at the KHMH are a living testimony to the level of professionalism and dedication of its medical staff and leadership. For more than 50 years, our international medical outreach efforts have helped enhance the health of patients globally, and the efforts of the staff at the KHMH are truly exceptional,” he stated.
The fully-equipped cardiology program in Belize is the second of such programs that the IMO Program has established in Central America. The first was developed in 1984 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.