It is anticipated that the new centre will facilitate at least 150 cardiac surgeries. Last year, the hospital performed 41 of these surgeries.
The cardiac facility, which is a collaborative effort among the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) and several public and private stakeholders, is expected to be completed this year. It will cater to children between the ages of zero to 12 years who have heart ailments and are in need of specialist cardiac care.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the entities for the establishment of the centre during a ceremony at the hospital’s location in St. Andrew, on June 21.
Among the signatories was Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who said the event marked “another important milestone in Jamaica’s healthcare system”.
He noted that the establishment of the centre will see many children accessing better cardiac care and more cardiac surgeries and treatment.
The Minister further informed that the idea for the centre was developed based on the great demand for paediatric cardiac care and treatment in Jamaica. He lamented that the hospital’s intensive care unit only has five beds which made cardiac patients consistently compete for these spaces. The new cardiac centre will now provide 10 beds.
For Chairman of SERHA, Philip Armstrong, the occasion “signifies that we are a step closer to opening the first paediatric cardiac centre in Jamaica and possibly the Caribbean”.
Noting that the demand for cardiac services is “tremendous”, Mr. Armstrong said the hospital has worked assiduously to provide the best quality care for patients. He pointed out that the establishment of the centre will further strengthen the hospital’s capacity to serve these patients.
“The cardiac centre aims to provide children with the most effective cardiac care in the world. It is my hope that the centre will play a more integral role in improving the quality of the outcomes of our paediatric cardiac patients, while striving to reduce significantly the waiting list for surgical interventions and reducing the impact of congenital heart disease in Jamaica,” he said.
In the meantime, Chief Executive Officer of the charitable organisation, Chain of Hope United Kingdom (UK), Emma Scanlan, pointed out that at least 400 children are born every year with heart disease in Jamaica, who are in need of specialist care.
She thanked the Health Ministry for bringing the centre “back to life”, and committed to “working with you in harmony to create a much needed service for the children of Jamaica”.
The partners involved in the project include Chain of Hope United Kingdom (UK), Digicel Jamaica, Sagicor Investments Limited, Gift of Life District 7020, the Caribbean Heart Menders Association, the National Health Fund, the Cardiac Kids Foundation of Florida, the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida, the Jamaica Children’s Heart Fund and the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation.
The cardiac centre is designed to offer full surgical and after-care service with a 10-bed intensive care unit, operating theatre and catheter lab. It will also offer specialised training for surgeons, nurses and other paediatric cardiac personnel, as well as conduct research.