Remarkable baby heart surgeries at GPHC
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Dr. Carl Max Hanoman presents a token of appreciation to Dr. Joanna Cole, Consultant, Internal Medicine, whose contract came to an end on October 1.  Others, from left, are Dr. Rodrigo Soto, Dr. Sheik Amir, Dr. Clint Doiron, Mr. Michael Khan and Dr. Merissa Seepersaud (Cullen Bess-Nelson)
Dr. Carl Max Hanoman presents a token of appreciation to Dr. Joanna Cole, Consultant, Internal Medicine, whose contract came to an end on October 1. Others, from left, are Dr. Rodrigo Soto, Dr. Sheik Amir, Dr. Clint Doiron, Mr. Michael Khan and Dr. Merissa Seepersaud (Cullen Bess-Nelson)

– Hospital building Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

By Shirley Thomas
THE Baby Heart Foundation formerly known as the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF) has completed its sixth mission here with a commendable record of having performed 117 surgical procedures, including 84 open-heart surgeries, since it started its missions in April 2015.The latest mission, which commenced on September 17, 2016 and concluded last Friday, saw 13 complicated cardiac surgeries being performed, including one open-heart surgery at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC).
The babies operated on were from across Guyana, with some 50 per cent having come from the hinterland; the youngest was recorded as being 20 days old and the oldest 34 days.

The good news was shared with the local media on Friday at a press conference held by the GPHC. An elated Dr. Max Hanoman, Chairman of the GPHC Board of Directors, expressed satisfaction with the work done by the Baby Heart Team and the local partners.

Consultant/Paediatric Surgeon Dr. Merissa Seepersaud, in commending the collaboration, said the Baby Heart Foundation is not only interested in coming to help treat these babies, but to train and help the GPHC to continue doing such surgeries long after the team would have left.

Noting that the partners all saw the need for the development of paediatric cardiac care and paediatric intensive care in Guyana, she said the main emphasis is to impart knowledge and ensure that the local team is well trained to take up this responsibility going forward.

Dr. Seepersaud said that among those trained so far are 40 nurses, two surgeons, seven paediatric registrars, six scrub nurses, four anesthetic cardiology residents, and a number of other residents and other local personnel.

She said that, this time around, the ICHF was able to have five training sessions before the mission actually started, and a full programme was done on the opening day of the training, with an emphasis on paediatric health care.

Dr. Seepersaud said the training would essentially be used to help not only paediatric cases, but any cardiac case the hospital encounters. She assured that the ICHF has indeed been performing quite complex cases, and, for the first time in Guyana, has been able to perform open-heart surgeries.

Also addressing the press conference were members of the Baby Heart team headed by Dr. Rodriguo Soto, along with Doctors Clint Doiron and Joanna Cole, Consultant Internal Medicine.

Local partners integrally involved in the process included Director of Medical and Professional Services at GPHC, Dr. Sheik Amir; and Sisters Marks, Ramdial and Singh.

Head of the Mission, Dr. Rodrigo Soto, thanked the Ministry of Public Health; the Chief Executive Officer of the GPHC, Michael Khan; the chairman and Board of Directors of the GPHC, and other key players for the support given in making the collaboration possible and successful.

Dr. Soto emphasized that the Baby Heart team is here to help the local team to develop its own unit to such a standard that, after a while, it would be able to stand on its own and carry on without the Baby Heart team.

“We are here not only to operate on these patients, but also to train them (the local staff) as providers, so they can perform the same procedures in the years to come,” Dr. Soto stated. He said that while they will be happy to come along to see how the local facility develops, these visits are but building a foundation on which the institution can stand going forward.

“What we are doing here is actually building the capacity and taking care of all the critically ill patients, the critically ill children that come to GPHC. We are building a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit which is going to be the first in the country,” Dr. Soto said.

“The persons working along with the team right now on very complex cases certainly will be able to take care of any other patients going to the ICU without us,” he added.

Dr. Soto pointed to a steady increase in the number of patients now being treated, thus considerably reducing space capacity. To this end, he said, plans are being made to double the capacity from a four-bed to possibly a nine-bed facility, providing for air-conditioning and offering more space for storage as well.

Meanwhile, a token of appreciation was presented to Dr. Joanna Cole, Consultant, Internal Medicine/ Infectious Diseases. Dr. Cole, a full time instructor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from July 2013 to August 2014, was assigned to the GPHC to work along with the residents of the Masters in Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases.

The next baby heart mission is due to arrive on November 30 and conclude on December 14.

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