In October of last year, the KHMH instituted a Cardio-Cath programme in Belize, and in 7 months, this programme has treated an impressive 52 patients.
The procedure - which was not offered in Belize before - costs about 15,000 US dollars in the United States, and about $2000 US dollars in neighboring countries, but under this programme, it costs Belizeans about $750 US dollars; that's $1500 Belize dollars.
Today, the Cardiovascular team led by Dr. Glen Kowalchuk held a press conference to celebrate the milestone, and explain how important this is to the country.
Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth - CEO, KHMH
"We've manage to see, evaluate, and in some cases, manage quite a few patients since the inauguration of the Cath Lab service."
Dr. Chadwick - Cardiac Lab Specialist
"Catheterization really is only half the story. What we're doing really is identifying severe cardiovascular problems which are correctable. And by correcting these problems, individuals who suffer from these problems, will be able to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. What is done with the cardiac catheterization is that a tube is placed into the artery, through the leg - we're doing the femoral approach - the catheter is advanced to aorta, where the arteries that feed the heart come off, and we inject x-ray dye into the arteries that feed the heart, to visualize any potential blockages, or any particular shunts - holes - that may be there. Not every problem can be corrected, and that's unfortunate, but it does identify a number of cases which are treatable, or it helps to guide our therapy."
Dr. Adrian Coye - Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery
"The event may not be that the life is change or saved that point of doing the procedure, but the quality of life is made better because now, you're doing specific goal-directed therapies toward that condition that you've now clearly defined."
Dr. Curtis Samuels - Cardiologist
"Here at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, we don't have anybody who has the training or the skills in cardiac catheterization from a coronary perspective, but the plan is to actually involve training. The idea is to have a local team trained in the event that something will occur."
Dr. Adrian Coye
"We are bringing medicine - or cardiac care - from the dark ages, into what is accepted standard care. I would expect that within 2 years, we would be a stand-alone program, but what we have is an unparalleled generosity, where they are not coming for a year or 2, and that's it. This is a life-long journey, but it's just the begining, and we want that this program evolves."
Although local doctors still cannot perform the procedure by themselves, the team says that Belizean doctors should be able to do the surgery -alone- in 2 years.