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May 23, 2012

K.H.M.H. and Heart Centre show love to patients

There is some good news to report on the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. A year after it opened a cardiac catheterization lab in conjunction with the Carolinas Heart Centre, a record number of patients benefitted from affordable treatment. This morning, specialists from the K.H.M.H. and the Heart Centre proudly announced that the joint mission has been a success. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Since the inauguration of the cardiac catheterization lab at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on February seventh, 2011, a team of specialists from the Carolinas Heart Center have been making monthly visits to Belize to perform the procedure. Today, the K.H.M.H. celebrated a first milestone in providing the service to Belizeans.


Dr. Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H.

Gary Longsworth

“We’ve been doing work quietly, I assume, and we’ve managed to see, evaluate and in some cases manage quite a few patients since the inauguration of the cath lab service. We’ve reached a milestone of fifty cases done, in fact the exact number is fifty-two as of today. So we did our fifty-second patient in the cath lab this last mission.”


Dr. Glen Kowalchuk, Invasive Cardiologist, Carolinas Heart Center

“Cardiac catheterization is one of the ways that we identify some of these problems such as severe cardiovascular blockages, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, shunts or holes in the heart and by doing catheterization, we’re able to identify these problems before they get to the point that they cause consequences to the patient, so the point that they are treatable.”


The team is led by Dr. Glen Kowalchuk. He explains that there are several irregularities that can be identified using this procedure.


Glen Kowalchuk

Dr. Glen Kowalchuk

“What is done with the cardiac catheterization is that a tube is placed into the artery through the leg—we go through the femoral approach—the catheters advance to the aorta where the arteries that feed the heart come off. We inject x-ray dye into each one of the arteries that feed the heart to visualize any potential blockages or any potential shunts/holes that may be there. We also measure the blood pressure of each of the heart chambers to determine if they are elevated or abnormal and we’re able to visualize the pumping function of the heart and measure the pressures across the different valves in the heart to determine if there is any significant stenosis or regurgitation of the key valves.”


And even when the detected problems cannot be fixed, cardiac catheterization helps to determine whether an operation, balloon procedure or medication is needed. At this point, the local doctors cannot carry out the procedure on their own, but training is in pipeline.


Dr. Curtis Samuels, Cardiologist, K.H.M.H. 

Curtis Samuels

“This area of cardiology is known as invasive or intervention cardiology and so here at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, we don’t have anybody that has the training or the skills in cardiac catheterization from a coronary perspective, but the plan is to actually involve training. So when the Heinemann Foundation initiated this project, the intention was actually to have Dr, Kowalchuk and the other intervention cardiologists and their team comes in for an appropriate period of time during which training of a local Belizean team would take place.”


Dr. Adrian Coye, Director of Medical Services

“Where team building occurs, it involves nurses, cardio cath specialists and the cardiologists all achieving the skills and we’ve already sent one person as a cardio cath specialist who has done training in the Us and in Guatemala and has now returned. That is part of the first steps, other trainees, Marylyn Aspinall for example has gone up for exposure and that development will continue and our cardiologist, we expect as well Dr. Samuels to go and train and get the necessary skills.”


Adrian Coye

Having the cath lab at the K.H.M.H. will also Belizeans some big bucks since the procedure can cost up to fifteen thousand US dollars in the states.


Dr. Adrian Coye

“In Guatemala, it might  be about two thousand US, in Mexico it’s about the same and right now we ask patients to pay about seven hundred and fifty dollars US equivalent and this is in a way to make the program sustainable. There are different ways that you can do it but as you can see, as he said fifteen thousand US. By scale, by numbers and by doing things a bit differently here, but maintaining the same standard, we are aiming to have it as affordable and accessible as possible.”


Dr. Adrian Coye, the Director of Medical Services, says that in about two years the program should be fully sustainable and run by local doctors, but the partnership with the Carolinas Medical Center will continue. Delahnie Bain for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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