Latest update June 3rd, 2023 12:59 AM
May 17, 2016 News
An advanced cardiac facility is not only an ambitious venture but in fact it is a necessity here in Guyana.
This notion was emphasized by Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI), Dr. Gary Stephens.
CHI, which is located at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), is a public-private partnership. Moreover, government financed a recent upgrade of the facility in the form of a $2.1 billion state-of-the-art Catherisation Laboratory which was commissioned last Saturday.
Dr. Stephens, speaking at the commissioning ceremony, noted that there are some who would rightly question why a developing country such as Guyana would invest so much money in such advanced technology. He revealed that while in many countries around the world it would be regarded a bad investment “for Guyana, I think, unfortunately for us, cardiac disease is an epidemic in our country.”
He continued, “While we try to figure out how to prevent it, unfortunately it is here and it affects the productivity of a lot of our young people.”
Dr. Stephens, a Guyanese by birth, migrated many years ago to the United States, where he was able to eventually delve into the field of cardiology. He currently has a reputable place at the Maimonides Medical Centre in Brooklyn, New York, as a Cardiac Surgeon, and visits these shores regularly to offer his expertise.
“I tell people ever so often that the majority of people I operate on in the United States are in their 60s and 70s; in Guyana they’re in their 40s,” the CHI CEO emphasised.
He moreover posited that the millions spent by Government to procure the Cath Lab using tax-payers’ dollars is a good investment.
And Dr. Stephens assured Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, who attended Saturday’s commissioning, that “the returns will be a hundred fold; investing in the young men and women of our country as we go forward.”
CHI, which is manned by Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Mahendra Carpen, in the absence of Dr. Stephens, has also been gaining immense support from overseas experts the likes of Dr. Debra Isaacs, who has been offering help, with a particular focus on training personnel at the GPHC for a number of years. CHI has been a beneficiary as well.
“She is more committed than a lot of people I know, she has put a lot of effort towards helping us move cardiology along,” said the CHI CEO of Dr. Isaacs.
“As partners we can do so much,” said Dr. Isaacs, as she noted that the introduction of the new Cath Lab would in fact, expand opportunities both for the project in which she is involved and to advance the cardiac care offered to the entire nation.
“Heart disease isn’t something you can put on your schedule. If we are going to have state-of-the-art equipment, we need to use it as it is meant to be used, and I am very optimistic that we will be able to move forward,” said Dr. Isaacs who also graced Saturday’s commissioning ceremony.
Also there was GPHC’s Head of Paediatric Surgery, Dr. Marissa Seepersaud. She disclosed that the Guyana Paediatric Cardiac programme, which has been gaining support from the International Children’s Foundation (Baby Heart Foundation), is expected to benefit considerably from the new Cath Lab, as she pointed out its importance in the assessment and treatment of children with congenital heart disease.
She disclosed that while the GPHC-based programme has had some successes using the old CHI Cath Lab “we are very happy to see that the voices that needed to be heard for an upgrade to the Cath Lab were heard, and that this has been actually realised to the point now that we have a state-of-the-art Cath Lab; probably the best in the Region.”
Since opening its doors in 2006, the CHI has been considerably expanding its range of services and has included diagnostic cardiology, interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery. It has even been credited with undertaking the first paediatric cardiac surgery in the English-speaking Caribbean. In fact Dr. Stephens has divulged that because “we have led the way,” Trinidad has sought his support to introduce a similar cardiac service.
With the new Cath Lab, CHI is poised to introduce even more procedures including cardiac electrophysiology (elucidating, diagnosing and treating the electrical activities of the heart), coronary as well as cerebral work and fixing fibroids.
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