We will be returning to Haiti with the Haiti Cardiac Alliance to do echocardiography to screen children and young adults with congenital or rheumatic heart disease who may be candidates for surgical repair. The alliance helps arrange surgery in other countries or arranges surgical missions to Haiti. We will also be seeing patients in follow up who have either undergone surgery or are awaiting surgery.
There is a large burden of congenital and rheumatic heart disease in Haiti. Currently there are no local established cardiac surgical programs, and many of these patients can derive long term survival and quality of life benefit if surgery can be arranged. We are also helping to train local doctors and providers to help care for these patients and provide follow up such as a coumadin clinic.
This is an ongoing program provided by a rotating group of volunteer physicians that has benefitted a significant number of patients who have been provided corrective surgery.
This was my third trip to Haiti with the Haiti Cardiac Alliance. Our first stop was North of Port-au-Prince for one day at the Kay Mackenson clinic. Haiti is a beautiful country and the 2 hour drive along the coast provides many spectacular views, though the traffic can be harrowing! One of my favorite aspects of travel in Haiti are the colorful tap tap buses that most Haitians use for short trips around the county. We then spent two days at the St. Luke foundation hospital in Port-au-Prince.
Our team consisted of myself and a pediatric cardiology colleague. We performed screening on children and young adults with brief physical examinations and echocardiograms to identify those who may benefit from surgical intervention for congenital or rheumatic heart disease. The Cardiac Alliance begins the process of arranging surgery whenever possible for those who need urgent attention. For those who are not yet ready for surgery or are not candidates for surgical repair, we provide the appropriate prescriptions and arrange follow up care. The patients treated typically do not have resources to pay for care and the alliance works with many partners to provide the needed resources.
One of the aspects that I find most appealing about the work of the alliance is the ongoing continuity of care with clinical teams coming regularly throughout the year and the ability to provide high level interventions such as a coumadin clinic for patients after valve surgery. It has been particularly enjoyable on return visits to see patients in follow up after their surgical procedures and see the positive impact on the lives of patients and their families. We really appreciate the Dox Foundation's assistance with our work this year!