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Heart Institute introduces 24-hour emergency response, mobile services

Published:Monday | June 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Cardiac health specialists who served as panellists at the Heart Institute of the Caribbean's Family Heart Health Forum on Wednesday, May 21, pause for a photo op at the end of the successful free forum at The Knutsford Court hotel in Kingston. From left are: Dr Michael Banbury; Dr Edwin Tulloch-Reid; Dr Joel Brooks; the evening's moderator and heart attack survivor, Michael Anthony Cuffe; Dr Lisa Kirven Dawes; Dr Kenneth Baugh and Heart Institute CEO, Professor Ernest Madu.

In an effort to be more responsive to the needs of persons with heart-related illnesses, the Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) has announced a 24-hour rapid response emergency heart-care service, staffed with four interventional heart specialists who will be working round the clock to perform life-saving heart-care interventions. The institute will also begin providing mobile cardiac services to meet the needs of persons who have limited to no mobility. These services become effective on July 14.

Chief Executive Officer for the HIC, Dr Ernest Madu, made the announcement last month while addressing in excess of 400 attendees at the institute's free family heart health forum in Kingston.

Speaking at the forum, Dr Madu noted, "An estimated 60 per cent of us in this room will eventually succumb to a heart disease, and it is important to begin discussions around heart health now to see what we, as a community, can do. This family heart health forum is one such way that the HIC is showcasing our commitment to corporate social responsibility ... . It is because of our social consciousness that we are implementing these efforts. Added to our community interventions, we are also expanding HIC's service offerings, with our emergency and mobile heart-care services to be in a position to better serve all persons who are in need of heart care."

While highlighting the importance of increasing awareness and action among families about heart-related illnesses, Dr Kenneth Baugh, medical practitioner and Opposition spokesman on health, stated, "These kinds of community-type sessions are important as they empower persons with information. This is especially important as, sometimes, the first symptom of a heart attack is sudden death. So we are encouraging persons to pay attention, have regular check-ups, visit your nutritionist, and exercise."

He further congratulated the HIC team, referring to them as "innovators and mobilises for this interactive forum that educates people with the information needed to drive awareness".

The free heart health forum zoomed in on heart diseases, including heart attacks, in the context of families as a support system and a unit for lifestyle change. The forum also included testimonials from heart attack survivors, including Michael Anthony Cuffe Snr and Tommy Cowan.

Panel discussion

A highly interactive panel discussion proved to be a high point of the event, with medical specialists sharing information and addressing concerns in relation to causes and treatment options. The massive grouping of patrons were all too eager to have their heart-related queries addressed by the panelists which included: Dr Edwin Tulloch-Reid and Dr Joel Brooks, both interventional cardiologists at HIC; Dr Baugh, physician and former deputy prime minister; Dr Michael Banbury, family physician and chairman of HIC Physician Advisory Board; Dr Lisa Kirven-Dawes, consultant internist; and Mr Ricardo Bonassi, cardiac device specialist from St Jude Medical, United States.

HIC's 24-hour emergency response, mobile services and free family heart health forum form a part of its overall commitment to improving heart health in Jamaica. This commitment will be extended with a series of free specialist hypertension clinics every Friday in June. These will be done at the Heart Institute's office in Kingston.