Heart Institute offers free heart assessment, other services to Jamaicans

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Citing the many barriers to effective heart care in Jamaica, the Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) has announced its groundbreaking intervention of now offering free heart assessments and emergency coronary angiograms to all Jamaicans in need of critical cardiovascular care.

A coronary angiogram is a special X-ray test. It is done to find out if a person's coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed, where and by how much.

"We are of the view that cardiovascular-care delivery in Jamaica will be greatly enhanced through a process of open access to rapid and prompt coronary angiograms at the time when patients need this the most and especially for those patients most at risk," explained HIC chief executive officer, Professor Ernest Madu.

In response to the access issues in cardiovascular emergencies, which also includes, information deficit and a lack of resources, the HIC has designed a new model, which will see the most vulnerable group of Jamaicans benefiting from open access to emergency heart care.

Under this model, which the HIC calls its 10th-anniversary gift to Jamaica, the HIC Chest Pain Center will offer free emergency physician evaluation for anyone with chest pain or cardiac complaints after hours. If the doctor determines they need an angiogram, it is also offered free, and patients would only be required to purchase the low-cost RAPID Angiokits that are available through various suppliers in Jamaica.

Cardiac Illness

Additionally, free angiograms will now also be offered at HIC to: all patients in Jamaica identified to be having a heart attack, chest pain or other cardiac complaints, strongly suggesting a heart attack; all patients hospitalised at any hospital in Jamaica, who have been told that they would need an angiogram during that hospital stay; and all patients presenting at any A&E in Jamaica, who are told that an angiogram would be needed because of their complaints."We believe that an open and accelerated access to coronary angiograms without financial consideration will lead to a quick diagnosis and allow clinicians to define proper treatment strategies, and give patients early diagnosis and families, well-deserved comfort and peace of mind," Madu added.This latest Heart Institute innovation follows several corporate social-responsibility innovations including: the launch of a 24-hour emergency response-heart care service in July 2014; free heart testing for CARIFTA athletes; the opening of Jamaica's first dedicated 24-hour Chest Pain Emergency Care Center to the public in September 2014; a series of free specialist hypertension clinics; and heavily discounted heart-related testing at varied points throughout the year.

CAPTION: It's all smiles for Heart Institute of the Caribbean executives. Chief executive officer (CEO), Professor Ernest Madu (left); and president, Dr Dainia Baugh, interact with heart health partners, chairman and CEO of US-based Netmedical, Dick Govatski (second left); and Dr Douglas Waldo, vice-president, clinical services, International Health Services. The quartet was discussing details of the institute's 10th-anniversary announcement, which will see the most at-risk Jamaicans receiving free emergency angiograms.