|Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute physicians prepare to insert stents into a patient’s chest at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. The mobile cardiac catheterization laboratory was donated by the International Medical Outreach Program to in 2011.
Carolinas HealthCare System is continuing its 50 year tradition of providing sustainable healthcare in medically underserved countries.
In June 2013, three Belizean patients received the first stents performed in the country’s largest public hospital thanks to efforts made by Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute and then International Medical Outreach Program.
Both the Institute and the IMO are a part of Carolinas HealthCare System.
This initial set of stents was performed at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City by John Cedarholm, MD, who practices interventional cardiology at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute-Pineville, with support from Isaac Miller and Paul Jellum, cardiovascular specialists.
The procedures were successful, and the patients are recovering well. Another team of Sanger cardiologists is expected to return to Belize City in the first week of September 2013 to perform the next round of stents.
“Belize is a medically underserved country with few resources and lacks the sophisticated level of cardiac care available in the United States,” said Dr. Cedarholm. “Patients with heart disease typically do not have the means to travel to a neighboring country to receive necessary treatment.
Our goal, at Sanger and at Carolinas HealthCare System, is to improve the quality of life for all patients and to increase access to quality, life-saving care.”
In the United States, stenting is performed as a common, minimally invasive treatment alternative to open heart surgery. Stents are placed in about 1 million patients every year.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Central American Republic of Belize. Until 2011, when Carolinas HealthCare System’s International Medical Outreach Program donated a mobile catheterization laboratory to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, the country’s public healthcare facilities lacked modern cardiac diagnostic and interventional facilities.
Since October 2011, cardiology teams from Sanger have traveled to Belize on a monthly basis to perform cardiac catheterizations and have trained Belizean cath techs to support the procedures.