The first Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) was commissioned yesterday at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Services offered at the facility will be free of cost while cases requiring surgery will be referred to the Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI).
The costs for these surgeries will be subsidised by the Government of Guyana. The CICU was commissioned with the unveiling of a plaque, and an official opening of the doors of the unit.
The unit will now provide services including a heart failure clinic, cardiac catheterization, electrocardiogram or ECG, stress testing echocardiogram, and angiogram among others.
Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton said, “The opening of this, the first public cardiac care unit in the Caribbean is a pivotal step in decreasing the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease in our beloved country. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in Guyana and the Government of Guyana is cognisant of its importance of providing the best quality cardiac care to change this condition.”
Equipment for the unit cost US$300,000 which has eight monitoring patient beds, eight bed side monitors, five step down care beds and also pulmonary artery monitoring equipment among others.
Guyanese with heart diseases and other complications have been seeking care at the Caribbean Heart Institute where a significant cost was attached for the services. Now with the opening of the CICU, Government is working towards providing advanced cardiac care, as well as free heart surgeries.
According to the Government Information Agency, “it costs US$500,000 for 10 patients to receive cardiac treatment, but with this new facility, it would cost the government the same amount for the treatment of 100 patients”.
This unit was made possible through collaboration among the Ministry of Public Health, GPHC, and the University of Calgary in Canada. Medical personnel from the Calgary University had been volunteering services in the field of cardiology in the past four years at the GPHC.
A number of local physicians and nurses are being trained to provide support services in the unit, while the foreign doctors continue to serve in their capacities.
“The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit functions as a closed medical unit in that all orders and patient care decisions are made by the cardiology medical team under the direction of the medical director or his replacement,” Dr. Norton explained.