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Feb 2, 2011

This Valentines K.H.M.H. attends to heart conditions

Despite some apprehension when the donation was first offered last year, there is now the opportunity for specialized treatment at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for patients with heart conditions. The hospital today officially received a cardiac catheterization lab as part of a Central American project by the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute. The equipment has been donated at a time when there is an increase in persons with congenital heart diseases who require precise treatment and simply can’t afford to go abroad. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Medical technology that Belizeans have sought in the US for years will now be available at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. The hospital, today, launched its new Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which was donated by Dr. Francis Robicsek from the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute in North Carolina.

Dr. Francis Robicsek, Cardiac Surgeon, North Carolina

Francis Robicsek

“In Belize it was a logical development; everything was ready. That was one clog in the machinery that was missing. I call this lab a giant mouse trap because it attracts Belizean knowledge, Belizean talent and Belizean people and you need that.”

Dr. Bernard Bulwer, Director of Medical Services, K.H.M.H.

“What they did here was to usher diagnostic and therapeutic cardiac care into the twenty-first century. What this lab enables us to do is something that we should have been able to do thirty-five years ago. Belize was like thirty plus years behind the rest of the international medical community.”

The lab will allow for diagnosis and treatment of complex heart conditions to be done locally. Doctor Bernard Bulwer, the Director of Medical Services at the K.H.M.H., says that’s major news, especially with the increasing number of children afflicted with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Bernard Bulwer

Bernard Bulwer

“They have to try to find hospitals to put these kids; one, two, three. When that group comes in the future, rather than just coming to find out what’s wrong, they can actually use this Cath Lab to close the hole in the heart. And instead of spending a lot of money getting one, two kids out they can do like have a dozen or a dozen children in one day because of this lab. Someone gets a heart attack, blocks the arteries to the heart.  This lab enables us to see where the blockage is and they can provide what you call balloon angioplasty or stents.”

As for the expertise to operate and sustain the lab, Dr. Bulwer says the Sanger Institute will also provide training opportunities.

Dr. Bernard Bulwer

“They provided the opportunity that we can have their facilities to help train Belizeans; nurses, technicians and people to care for the lab. Also we have a number of Belizeans with expertise here, with expertise abroad.  We have partners in Guatemala, we have partners in the Caribbean , we have partners as far away as India in the United Kingdom who collectively will be able to use this lab. It’s a magnet for expertise that we could not accommodate before; now we have the technology. So this is not just for the Karl Heusner, it’s for the entire nation of Belize.”

Dr. Francis Robicsek

“I always regarded as part of my work to help patients and you can help patients by operating on them, you can help patients by providing facilities for others to do the work. So I don’t really consider extra-ordinary. Besides that in my whole life I was very involved in Central American archaeology, art and people. And I just tried to do the part that I can do best.”

The Cath Lab was donated in honor of Margaret G. Bissell, who assisted with funding and it was installed by the Bowen family in memory of the late Sir Barry Bowen. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Cardiac Surgeon, Dr. Adrian Coye, has returned to Belize as part of the program.

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