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A new Cardiac Unit is to be constructed and equipped at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, in Kingston.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this undertaking was signed on August 27 by the hospital with various stakeholders, including the Gift of Life Rotary District 7020.
This agreement, which is valid for five years, will also involve the systematic development of the human resource capacity in cardiac care in Jamaica.

Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer (second left), in discussion with Executive Director of Gift of Life International Inc., Rob Raylman (right), following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Gift of Life Rotary District 7020 Cardiac Centre, at the Bustamante Hospital for Children on August 27. Looking on (from left): Board Chairman, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Lyttleton Shirley; Chairman, Gift of Life Rotary District 7020, Dennis Chung and District Governor, Rotary International District 7020, Diana White.

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer said under the MoU, the Bustamante Hospital will be able to increase the number of cardiac surgeries done annually from approximately 40 to 208.
“At present, patients save over $540 million, which is the cost of doing the surgeries. With the new centre, savings to patients will increase to $2.8 billion annually, at $13.5 million per surgery,” the Minister informed.
He said the agreement will also facilitate the training of doctors, nurses and biomedical engineers to improve the skills and expertise of the local team working in the programme.
“The stakeholders will also provide assistance to the hospital in the area of maintenance of the cardiac equipment,” he said.

Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer (left), greets Executive Director of Gift of Life International Inc., Rob Raylman, at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Gift of Life Rotary District 7020 Cardiac Centre, at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, on August 27.

Mr. Spencer further informed that two missions, Chain of Hope and Caribbean Heart Menders Association, which usually visit the hospital annually, will continue to make their visits and will undertake an additional 40 surgeries each year.
“This latest initiative, which will see the construction of a new Cardiac Unit at the Bustamante Hospital for Children to advance the development of a paediatric cardiac surgery programme, represents another ray of hope for our children in the Caribbean region,” he noted.
The Minister said the Government was committed to establishing public partnerships in an effort to improve access to services, reduce the cost of providing those services and improving service delivery across several sectors and industries.
He thanked the staff of the Bustamante Hospital for their hard work and dedication, particularly in the field of cardiac care. “Many children have benefited over the years (from your dedication),” he said, adding that some 300 children were on the waiting list for cardiac surgery.
Mr. Spencer also expressed gratitude to the various institutions involved in the MoU – Gift of Life Rotary District 7020, Chain of Hope, the Caribbean Heart Menders Association, the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida and the Cardiac Kids Foundation of Florida.
Board Chairman, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Lyttleton Shirley, said the Gift of Life Cardiac Centre is scheduled to be completed by next year and will be only one of its kind in the Caribbean.
“Our visiting cardiac teams, Chain of Hope UK, the Caribbean Heart Menders Association and the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida, must be recognised for their outstanding contributions over the years, providing vital open heart surgeries here at Bustamante Hospital, and in the process, providing us with much needed equipment and supplies valued at millions of dollars each year,” he said.
Mr. Shirley pointed out that the new cardiac unit will enable the hospital to conduct surgeries for approximately 150 private patients per year, from around the world, for a fee of about $400,000 (US$5,000) per patient.
“What this is saying is that for every private patient we do, we will be able to do four public patients,” he informed. “This will see us having approximate revenue from these 150 patients of at least $60 million per year from that source alone. It means that those funds will certainly go a far way in helping us sustain the cardiac programme,” he added.

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