The lone Cardiac catheterization laboratory in the territory has so far produced a 100
This was revealed at a media conference held at the Bougainvillea Clinic in Road Town on Monday when doctors Heskith Vanterpool and Mahendra Carpen gave an update on the progression of the lab.
“Since we’ve started the Cath lab six months ago, we have done a total of 35 cases. They’ve all been successful and doing effectively what we needed to do and on top of that we’ve had absolutely zero complications,” Dr Vanterpool said.
Dr Vanterpool, who is a non-invasive cardiologist, believes the territory boasts the most complete cardiac services in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) including having the advantage over the closest competitor, the US Virgin Islands.
“We have two interventional
Benefits of having a local Cath lab
According to Dr Vanterpool, by conducting procedures locally, BVIslanders can now save thousands of dollars when receiving treatment. Apart from a portion of the cost being covered under the National Health Insurance, persons who require immediate heart surgery or similar procedures will now be saving additional money on transportation, which would have been used to charter an air ambulance to either Puerto Rico, Colombia or Miami. The cost of these charters typically range from $7,000 to $25,000, all depending on which location is chosen, BVI News was told.
Meanwhile Dr Carpen who is a visiting interventional cardiologist from Guyana said there is healing that occurs outside of medicine which is achieved when recovering in familiar atmospheres.
“I’ve always been a believer that you get the best outcomes when patients are treated and managed in their own home environment surrounded by friends, family, pastors, their church members, people they care for that provide the things we as doctors cannot provide,” Dr Carpen said.
Plans for the future
When asked why the territory doesn’t have an interventional cardiologist of their own, Dr Vanterpool said it was due to the small population of the BVI and the small number of cases received monthly, in comparison to larger countries such as the United States or even Guyana.
“Experienced cardiologists sitting in the BVI waiting for one patient to show up every week, at this point, it is impractical” Dr Vanterpool reasoned.
Dr Carpen interjected to explain that interventional cardiologists are required to operate on at least 200 patients yearly to maintain their certification in the discipline.
“For a service of Cath lab to have fulltime people to maintain accreditation in the common standard, they will need about 400 cases per year, so it’s not a case where you just have somebody trained. They can come trained and they will be here waiting but within a year or two they are going to lose accreditation” said Dr Carpen.
He also believes that the territory needs a cardiac surgery programme to partner with interventional cardiology to improve local healthcare services which, in turn, will see open-heart surgery and bypass surgery becoming available in the BVI.
Dr Vanterpool, in the meantime, believes the lab will attract patients from the region and internationally if it is made to continue its progress. This he said could positively impact medical tourism in the territory.