Pacemakers to be installed at Caribbean Heart Institute in Guyana
By Lenny Armogum
May 6, 2007
(NEW YORK)-- THE Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI), the new medical organisation which set up house in October 2006 at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation has announced that it will be inserting pacemakers beginning May 18 this year.
CHI President, Dr. Gary Stephens, told the Guyana Post the U.S.-based medical device maker, Medtronic Company, world leader in medical technology, has selected the CHI as one of the international sites for its products. The Guyanese-born physician said CHI will also be handling Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD) and defibrillators.
According to him, there will also be a registry later so that people from overseas with pacemakers, defibrillators, and ICDs can register with CHI. If the overseas visitor encounters any medical problems when in Guyana, the CHI will be able to assist them.
Dr. Stephens also told this reporter that CHI’s recent trip to Guyana was very successful.
He reported that Amplatzer, a U.S.-based company, provided 15 devices to treat congenital heart defects. The devices, which normally cost about US$5,000 each, were donated to CHI and were used on patients suffering from congenital heart defects. A congenital heart defect is any type of heart problem that is present at birth.
The patients who had Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), and Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA), had their problems corrected at CHI. In a PDA there is an abnormal circulation of blood between two of the major arteries near the heart. If the PDA is not fixed the patient may need a heart and lung transplant later in life.
An ASD is what is often referred to as a hole in the heart. A CoA is a narrowing of the aorta between the upper body artery branches and the branches to the lower body.
During the first two days, Stephens said, the visiting team screened about 120 children, and they identified the ones with congenital defects. Once identified, the children were taken to the Catheter Lab where the team was able to fix defects. The surgeries were performed by using cardiac catheterisation. In this procedure the cardiologist inserted a thin plastic tube (catheter) into the artery in the leg. From there the tube can be advanced into the chambers of the heart or into the coronary arteries.
“It was amazing because before this facility opened in Guyana, many children had to go to India for this procedure. Now the CHI can do this procedure in Guyana. We are very happy, especially as this procedure is a first in the English-speaking Caribbean. We also have a lot of interest from Barbados and Trinidad,” said Stephens.
In addition to performing the surgeries, the cardiologists also reassessed the children who had heart surgery in India through the Kids First Fund programme.
Stephens also said the CHI is working with the Guyana Government to start a paediatric cardiac registry for babies with congenital defects. With the registry in place, all that is needed is a telephone call or a telegram to the parents of the babies when the next team of cardiologists visits Guyana.
Some of the services offered at the CHI are digital catheterisation, angiogram tests, stress tests, echocardiograms, holter monitoring, and electro cardiograms.
A digital catheterisation is a digital system that provides crystal clear images of the heart and arteries; an angiogram is an imaging test that uses x-rays to view the body’s blood vessels; a stress test helps a doctor find out how well the heart handles work; an echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart; holter monitoring is a continuous tape recording of a patient’s EKG for twenty four hours; and an electro cardiogram is an electrical recording of the heart and it is used in the investigation of heart disease.
Dr. Stephens is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and his office is located in Brooklyn at 94-13 Flatlands Avenue. The telephone number is: (718)257-8180. He is currently planning to open an office at 109 Street and Lefferts Blvd.