Nov 08, 2010 News
“We are trying to stay focused on our mission to save lives, regardless of the criticisms that are levelled by some persons,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI), Dr Gary Stephens.
According to Dr Stephens, CHI commenced its operation four years ago with the intent to provide a service and a level of care that the Guyanese populace could be proud of.
“I don’t think any criticism could deter me now; I think I am my own worst critic. We critique ourselves all the time, that’s just the way it is…I am never pleased, so we are always striving to do better here at CHI,” he asserted during an interview with this newspaper.
Reflecting on the operation of CHI over the past four years, Dr Stephens revealed that the services being offered have gotten better, adding that plans are already apace to further improve what currently obtains.
“Every year we bring something new…we just try to move forward in our effort to get to where we want to be. Are we perfect? No. Do we make mistakes? Yes we do. So every criticism that people level at us we take a look at it.”
Even the recent allegations that were levelled against the heart institute by television personality and leader of the Justice For All Party, Chandra Narine Sharma (who claimed that he was unable to see a doctor at the institution), have been investigated. And according to Dr Stephens, the allegations were found to be very inaccurate.
“First thing I did on learning of the claims was to find out what was the real story. And I was satisfied with the explanation and it was not anywhere close to what was claimed…”
According to Dr Stephens, “we at CHI are not afraid of criticisms,” even as he stressed that officials at the entity are always willing to listen to people’s opinions.
He opined that often is the case that people refuse to take the time to ink a note stating their concerns in the quest to create an improved service.
“What does it serve you to go and spread some stupid rumour? I guarantee that anybody who picks up the phone and says I had a bad experience at CHI, we are going to look into it…It is in our interest to address any real concern.”
24-hour emergency service, a success story
It was in the quest to improve the service that is offered, Dr Stephens revealed, that a decision was taken just over a year ago to offer a 24-hour emergency service by incorporating the services of an Interventional Cardiologist, in the person of Dr Pratik Soni. And according to Dr Stephens, there is no doubt that Dr Soni has been doing an excellent job, in addition to the service rendered by the other three doctors – Ghansham Singh, Haydoc Wilson, and Shaskil – who are currently attached to CHI.
Although Dr Stephens, a Guyanese by birth who resides in the United States, spearheads routine open-heart operations at the institution, the other doctors are charged with the day-to-day operation of CHI.
“It has been great, only Mr Sharma seems to think that he can’t find a doctor when he comes here.”
Dr Stephens noted that since Dr Soni’s arrival several persons have benefited considerably. Among those who have benefited from the emergency service are: Mr Sharma; Police Commissioner, Henry Greene; the Guyana Revenue Authority’s boss, Khurshid Sattaur; Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Robert Corbin, among others.
“He (Dr Soni) is good at what he does. There is no question about his ability. He has done a great deal and he has singlehandedly made a huge difference,” Dr Stephens boasted.
He revealed that Dr Soni is so capable in his field that he can convert many emergency situations to elective surgery. And this could be undertaken when a patient suffers a heart-attack whereby a stent is implanted in the relevant blood vessel to remove a blockage thus allowing the heart to function almost normally.
“He will make sure that you are okay and you may not need surgery maybe until five months down the road…”
And there are plants to make open-heart surgery just as routine as stenting at CHI, according to Dr Stephens. Stenting can be done at CHI on a daily basis. And Dr Stephens envisages open-heart surgery being done just as regular – a development which is currently being restricted by the limited four-bed recovery room.
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