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Heart Institute adding new wing, national network of heart stations

Heart Institute of the Caribbean will open a new wing on the medical facility by next March, having spent US$4 million (J$500 million) on the expansion at the Balmoral Avenue complex in Kingston, inclusive of equipment and a cardiac emergency room.

Heart Institute also completed the setup of an additional facility in Montego Bay in September, which “like Kingston, will have the capacity for inpatient services and full scale Interventional cardiology services, including pacemaker implantation and angioplasty with stent placement,” said Chairman and CEO Professor Ernest Madu.

The 13-year old company operates cardiac centres in Mandeville and Ocho Rios both of which are to be renovated and upgraded next year as well ‘heart stations’ in Spanish Town, St Catherine and at Phoenix Avenue in Kingston.

Heart stations are community-based outpatient clinics that are intended to make cardiac care more accessible and affordable to persons with heart disease. They are designed, as Madu notes, “to bridge the accessibility gap”.

“We plan to have heart stations in all 14 parishes and in several public locations. To complement this program, we are expanding our fleet of specialised cardiac ambulances to facilitate access to Jamaicans all across the island,” he told 

Gleaner Business.

Funding for the expansion programme came largely from Heart Institute’s holding company, International Healthcare Services Limited, as well as Nashville-based IHS Group, which continues to provide ongoing assistance with strategy, business processes development, capacity enhancement, procurement, and operational management, Professor Madu said.

He describes International Healthcare as a global holding company with focused investments in healthcare technology and service delivery in various regions of the world, particularly economies in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

“We have made an additional investment of more than US$4 million in the new services and expect to invest additional funds in the coming months,” the chairman said. It included two new ambulances, boosting the fleet to five.

The project has transformed the medical facility into “the first and only full service dedicated 24-hour heart hospital in Jamaica and the wider English-speaking Caribbean,” he added

Heart Institute is currently searching for executive and other staff to match new output targets as the company expands. It is also in discussions with physicians and business leaders in Caribbean islands where it is eyeing market entry.

Madu did not name the islands targeted.

Positive impact

“With the new development, we expect to more than triple our workforce, which obviously will have a significant positive impact on the local economy,” he said. “We will be augmenting our current team with international experts in areas of clinical and technical operations, clinical and nursing standards of care, quality review, control and compliance, medical informatics, and biomedical engineering.”

The enhanced 24-hour heart hospital at Balmoral Avenue features a full-service operating theatre and a second catheterisation lab for cardiology, vascular, and radiological services.

The facility has 24 monitored beds specifically for cardiac patients, comprising a five-bed cardiac emergency room, a six-bed private cardiac intensive care unit, a 10-bed telemetry unit and three pre-procedure beds.

Madu describes the hospital’s operating theatre as an “ultra-modern” facility designed to “create a sterile environment to improve patient outcome and keep post-operative complications at the barest minimum.” It also has a waste anaesthetic gas disposal system “and is probably the only operating theatre in Jamaica with such a sophisticated system,” he said.

The Heart Institute head claims zero mortality and no major complications for the decade or more that the facility has operated in Jamaica.

“Our door-to-balloon time is currently under 90 minutes, which is better than many international centres of excellence,” he said.

The new east wing to open at Heart Institute was designed by hospital architects Ansell and Bailey in London, and local architect Zuar Jarrett worked collaboratively with the UK firm on the project, Madu said.

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