(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Tuesday 12th March, 2019): InterHealth Canada – Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital officially announced the commencement of Cardiology services under the Visiting Consultant Program during a press conference on Friday 8th March 2019. The new development will provide in-country access to Cardiology medical care that was previously only available under the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP).
Under the Visiting Consultant Program, medical expertise from all-over the world in various specialties visit the island on a periodic basis to deliver services in outpatient clinics and operative procedures, which are not permanently available in-country.
Visiting Consultant Cardiologist, Himanshu Shukla, M.D. will deliver adult cardiology non-invasive programs, specifically, echocardiography rhythm monitoring and consultations at a tertiary care level. Based on statistics, Cardiology and Ophthalmology are the two most frequently required medical services under the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP). Hence, the introduction of on-shore Cardiology services will provide high quality and comprehensive care to patients, which reduces government expenditure and the need for patients to travel abroad.
Patients who require Cardiology services will be identified by TCI Hospital’s Internal Medicine Physician to ensure the referral is clinically necessary and to promote best use of resources. The service will be delivered on a quarterly basis with clinics ranging from 7-10 days based on patient volumes.
An innovative technology has been introduced under the program as an alternative to the a traditional Holter monitor that measures and records a patient’s heart activity (ECG). The stick-on Zio patch empowers patients to maintain a clean, uninterrupted signal with minimal effort or disruption to their lifestyle. The miniature device also gives the assurance of reliable data with a clear and comprehensive look into a patient’s heart rhythm over longer periods for more appropriate diagnosis. There are also no wires to manage, batteries to charge or leads to reconnect. Cindy Durham, a cardiology patient and nurse at the hospital was used to demonstrate the technology.
The inaugural visiting consultant cardiology clinic was held last week with overwhelming positive feedback from patients. Dr. Shukla stressed that the technology is also more customized to the patient population, suitable for local climatic conditions, more cost- effective and has minimal hardware. A portal ultrasound has also been used during the consultant visits, which is another innovative expansion to the hospital’s current capacity.
During the press conference, Dr Shukla also stated that building a cardiology program is advantageous to the country. Based on population demographics and steady growth, persons may experience a cardiology issue at some point. It is an unfortunate, but a realistic statistic. An increase in diabetes and renal health-related conditions across the community can precipitate heart related issues for persons. Therefore, appropriate screening, management and counselling for patients early in the process is invaluable. Dr Shukla also believes the transition and growth of the program will be successful in the long-term since the infrastructure and platform has already been provided.
Chief Executive Officer of InterHealth Canada – TCI Hospital, Daniel Carriere stated: “It is great that we can bring this type of talent to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Dr. Shukla’s credentials, experience and qualifications are impeccable and we are very fortunate to have a person of this caliber providing services. This is another example of bringing services close to home, which is always great for the patient and their families. We are always open and willing to work with Ministry of Health – TCI Government in exploring avenues that will ease the burden on government budgets. We recognize that health care is expensive by nature, and anything that the organization can do to lessen the cost and continue to improve services for our patients is something we are interested in doing.”
Chief of Medical Services of InterHealth Canada – TCI Hospital, Dr. Denise Braithwaite-Tennant stated: “Cardiovascular disease is prevalent in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is very important for us to support primary health care in preventive measures to reduce the impact on secondary and tertiary care interventions. The Zio technology is new to the country, and Dr. Shukla has also graciously funded 10 Zio patches for local patients at the onset. We are very appreciative of health care providers who view their expertise as a means of delivering a philanthropic service, as opposed to strictly focusing on the bottom line. The introduction of pediatric patients to the cardiology program requires the creation of a business case, which is currently under creation. Our next iteration is to include pediatric patients. Dr. Shukla’s first clinic visit was held on Providenciales due to patient numbers, but this does not eliminate the prospects for future visits to Grand Turk.”
Minister of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services, Honorable Edwin Astwood stated: “The launch of the program is very pleasing to all of us. We have heard that Cardiac and Heart Disease are the number one complaint in the Turks and Caicos Islands. To be able to better monitor and control these diseases can go a far way in dealing with the local population… It was also fitting to see the process that is taking place, whereby we are moving one step closer to the ideal situation that we envisioned this facility to be. The introduction of the program is very commendable as we are moving in the right direction. We are extremely happy to see this state-of-the-art technology being introduced in the Turks and Caicos Islands…”
Interim Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Board, Dr Terese Maitland stated:” To date the majority of patients who require cardiology tests and procedures, ranging from non-urgent to life-threatening emergencies, are treated outside of the TCI under the auspices of the Treatment Abroad Program, which is managed by the National Health Insurance Plan. Indeed, cardiology-related referrals, rank second in the total number and accounts for approximately 12% of treatment abroad referrals and a substantially larger percentage in terms of cost. Today officially marks the on-boarding of some of these services. This is expected to provide TCI residents with in country access to a broader range of cardiology related medical procedures…NHIP is excited about this endeavor, which is anticipated to be more accessible to a broader cross-section of our valuable clients and beneficiaries, facilitate prevention and early detection whilst simultaneously being cost effective and allowing us to stretch our health care dollars…”
TCI Government (TCIG) Acting Contract Performance Manager, Florinda Talbot delivered remarks on behalf of the Government’s Contract Management Unit, which oversees the partnership agreement between TCIG and InterHealth Canada. Talbot stated that the introduction of cardiology services supports both standards and service development of the hospital.