Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp
Its heart is set on saving lives
Business View Caribbean interviews representatives of Caribbean Heart Care, as part of our focus on healthcare options in the Caribbean.
Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp Ltd. (CHCm) is full-service Cardiovascular Care Center established in 1993 with the goal of making open-heart surgery and advanced heart care immediately accessible to cardiac patients in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean. The Center was founded in 1993 at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex in Trinidad by its current Managing Director, Dr. Kamal Rampersad, and Professor Gianni Angelini of the Bristol Heart Institute. Today, CHCm has several locations, including the St. Clair Medical Center in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It serves patients from all over the Caribbean, including Guyana, Antigua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, as well as patients from the U.S. and England.
Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp’s departments include: Cardiology, with invasive and non-invasive procedures and tests; Vascular and Endovascular services; Interventional Neuro-radiology/Radiology services; Electrophysiology services; Structural Heart Disease services; Cardiovascular Surgery; and other elective procedures. It has a staff of approximately 80 professional doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators. CHCm was awarded the “Service Provider of the Year” in 2013 by the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries, and it is the only cardiovascular institution in the Caribbean to have received the European QHA Trent Hospital accreditation.
Over the last 25 years, Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp has seen over 50,000 patients resulting in thousands of lives saved and quality of life improvements, including those of children who have had open-heart surgery and other complex cardiac procedures. Over 14,000 patients have had life-saving angiograms and or angioplasties performed by its experienced, interventional Cardiology Department, and over 5,000 have undergone cardiac surgery with a mortality rate of less than 1.5 percent. In addition, CHCm has a 24/7 emergency service with cardiologists on call. “If someone is having a heart attack, we can go in within 50 minutes and open up a blocked artery, says Dr. Risshi Rampersad, Director of Cardiology and Research and Education. “We’ve been doing this for over a decade with a lot of success and we are one of the few institutions that can do this in the Caribbean within international standards and timing. Moreover, with our audits, we can compare our mortalities and morbidities of our procedures with the rest of the world, and when we do that, our ranking is within, or better than, international standards.”
Rampersad believes that Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp differentiates itself from other facilities in the quality of its care and its focus on patient satisfaction. “The patient comes first,” he insists. In addition, because of its large size and the fact that it works closely with the government of Trinidad and Tobago, which subsidizes patients who cannot afford to pay for some procedures, Chief Operations Officer, Avinash Ramnarine, says the Center has been able to brand itself as the less expensive alternative. “We’re able to do that because of economies of scale and the patient load passing through the institution,” he explains.
Regarding the cost of diagnostic and medical procedures, Rampersad notes that Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp’s patients come in three categories, including “patients who have private insurances – companies that generally pay between 60 to 100 percent of the cost of ‘reasonable and customary’ medical procedures. We also work for the Ministry of Health at even half or less of what we charge privately,” he adds. “The reason we are able to do that is because the government provides us with a large number of patients, so we are able to use the volume in order to reduce the prices, which is negotiated with our suppliers and our doctors who perform the procedures. So, patients who can’t afford it get approved government grants and the government pays for their procedures. The third tier is private patients who pay for their procedures on their own.”
Always on the cutting edge with regard to new medical procedures, Rampersad reports that over the last few years, CHCm has instituted a structural heart disease program, “where we can change heart valves without open surgery. Also, the electrophysiology department started something called cryo- ablation to reduce heart arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation, and our endovascular department and radiology department are working towards a stroke team, where we can pull clots out of the brain and save people’s lives within 24 hours.”
Going forward, Rampersad would like to continue expanding the services that CHCm offers in its satellite clinics in different parts of the island. “We also have been looking at a central institution building where we can expand our present cardiovascular program,” he avers. “That’s one of the things we’re looking at for the next five years.” Ramnarine states, “In addition, we’re always open to form alliances, joint ventures, etc., in order to increase the size of our institution. We would like to position our institution very similar to other international cardiovascular institutions, which are the go-to place now for North America. We would like to be that institution for the Caribbean for medical tourism. We’re looking in that direction, as well.”
Ever alert to the high cost of medical care, COO Ramnarine adds, “Compared to the rest of the world, our costs are very good. We are a very compassionate institution because we do a lot of free work and work with the government, so we help a lot of patients with the financial aspects of their procedures.”
Most importantly, Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp’s ongoing mission is saving lives, and Dr. Rampersad sums up the Center’s promise of caring for Caribbean hearts: “When a patient comes into our office, and you tell them you have to do a procedure like angioplasty or cardiac surgery, they ask, ‘Doc, am I going to live?’ And because of our history and our statistics, we can actually give them a percentage that they have a very high chance that they’re going to live and have a high quality of life, afterward.”
Check out this handpicked feature on TCI Hospital – Turks and Caicos.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Caribbean Heart Care Medcorp
WHAT: A full-service cardiovascular care center
WHERE: Port of Spain, Trinidad