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Heart’s desire! - UHWI commissions state-of-the-art heart treatment suite

Published:Friday | May 31, 2019 | 12:24 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) yesterday officially commissioned Jamaica’s, and the region’s, first interventional suite to diagnose and treat complex cardiac cases using minimally invasive surgeries and significantly reducing recovery time.

The unit was completed at a cost of nearly $300 million, with contributions from the CHASE Fund, the National Health Fund, the Ministry of Health, and other donors.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, keynote speaker at the function, said that the UHWI’s role in providing quality healthcare was unquestionable.

“It’s a special occasion. It’s an amazing achievement,” he told the gathering, adding that such major developments should become the norm as Jamaica strives to make healthcare accessible to all.

“We should, in a very consistent way, strive to always be on the cutting edge, given our mandate as a regional body, to deal with the capacity-building mandate that we have – a teaching and learning institution … , and so the search for excellence is a dynamic process, but it should also be an ongoing process,” the minister said.

Dr Carl Bruce, medical chief of staff, said the suite, which began operating in April and which has done 75 procedures to date, is expected to handle 50 per week.

“We are open for business. We now have the number one cath lab in the region. With some six years of experience, UHWI is fully capable to deal with the most complicated cases and to provide the best aftercare to match,” he said Thursday.

UHWI Chief Executive Officer Kevin Allen said that with coronary artery disease being one of the leading causes of death worldwide, the hospital was committed to providing quality healthcare.

“The opening of the new unit is a great credit to our health services, and our aim is to continue to radically improve the quality of service and infrastructure for our patients and staff,” said Allen in a prepared text.

Wilford Heaven, CEO of the CHASE Fund, said the organisation’s contribution of $40 million was evidence of its commitment to partnership with the hospital and to game-changing projects such as the interventional suite, while UHWI board Chairman James Moss-Solomon said that he was a recipient of the medical expertise of the staff, with two stents from heart surgery.

The UHWI, which accepted its first patient in September 1952, offers training, research, and healthcare for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.