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Jul 31, 2015

Heart Clinic in City

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Belize according to recent figures from the Ministry of Health. The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital has been providing treatment for heart diseases since 2012; today it held a free clinic for patients requiring cardiovascular treatment. But it was not held at the national referral hospital; a team of visiting surgeons joined up with the local specialists and set up clinic at a school as a way of reaching out to the community. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

For some years now, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City has been providing cardiovascular services to the public under the direction of C.E.O. of the hospital and Belizean cardio thoracic surgeon, Doctor Adrain Coye. With assistance from international partners, a unit was set up within the confines of the national referral hospital. Back in July of 2012, Belize’s first two successful open heart surgeries were performed at the K.H.M.H. But patients with heart conditions are becoming more frequent and now, for the first time in the history of medical services, a free clinic was held by the health institution.

 

Marilyn Dawson Espinall

Marilyn Dawson Espinall, Training Coordinator, K.H.M.H.

“What we are trying to do is go to the people as opposed to people coming to K.H.M.H. This initiative has been in accordance with Heinemann Foundation. We’ve been partnering with them for the past couple years in terms of cardiac care and now we are saying okay there may be persons who we’ve been missing so we want to come to the community and see what’s happening here, making it readily available and like you said, free of charge.”

 

Belizeans from across country gathered at the St. Luke’s Methodist Primary School in Belize City. After filling out the requisite forms, vitals checked and a physical assessment conducted, medical professionals from the International Medical Outreach Program would carry out an echocardiogram test.

 

Theresa Johnson

Theresa Johnson, Exec. Dir., International Medical Outreach Program

“What we are doing is a cardiac assessment. We take your demographic information and we ask a series of questions if you have shortness of breath, are you dizzy, do you have chest pains and all this. And from those questions, we can then send you to the physician who can go base on what your answers have been, let me decide now what questions I need to ask, an assessment, they listen to your heart. They check your arteries in the legs and then they determine whether you need an EKG or an echo so we are doing those on site today as well. After you get all of that done, you are either referred on for additional testing or a more intense echocardiogram or heart cauterization and then we can really diagnose and treat.”

 

Cardiologist, Doctor Ted Frank, spoke of the screening and what are the prevalent heart diseases affecting Belizeans.

 

Ted Frank

Doctor Ted Frank, Cardiologist

“High blood pressure, diabetes, weak hearts, rheumatic heart disease which can cause problems with the heart valve. So if we identify the problem, we can treat it and then hopefully make a difference in that individual’s life. The symptoms can be varied. Some people just feel fatigued, some people feel shortness of breath, some people feel chest discomfort. With rheumatic heart disease which is cause by rheumatic fever, a lot of times that can cause a valve problem that can really makes people get out of breath and unable to do their daily activities.”

 

So why did people come out?

 

Adran Ramirez

Adran Ramirez, Outpatient

“It was necessary because I have a family member that is feeling some chest pains lately and I do believe that we need to start to address the matter—not only my family member, but the rest of Belize—need to address this. A lot of things come out not only because of hereditary, but people overweight, obesity, causes problems with the health. So we need to get active and try to do our best with our family members as well.”

 

Lusella Leslie

Lusella Leslie, Outpatient

“I came out because I saw this on the internet and I notice that I had a pain in my chest and my foot start to swell. So I come over here and I get wah check up. And like how I hear dah wah free clinic so I just come and get myself a free check up about it.”

 

And Doctor Frank says today they have seen some complicated cases.

 

Doctor Ted Frank

“We’ve seen some severe cases, some people who may end up needing surgery to cure their heart valve problem. We’ve seen high blood pressure which can be treated with medication. We’ve seen people with weak heart and we make changes in their medicines to help the heart pump more efficiently. We’ve also seen some other problems like rhythm problems that can be treated with certain medications. So we’ve seen a lot of different type of things.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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