Home News Local news St. Croix Surgeon Teaches Heart Technique in Guyana

St. Croix Surgeon Teaches Heart Technique in Guyana

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Jan. 27, 2007 — The healing hands of Dr. Kendall Griffith and St. Croix's Juan F. Luis Hospital (JFLH) have reached across the Caribbean in an effort to teach Guyana's doctors a diagnostic procedure that will help them determine the severity of heart disease in their patients.
This was Griffith's second visit to Georgetown Hospital in Guyana.
"We have gained an awesome amount of knowledge in the past few days," said Gary Stevens, M.D., a cardio-thorasic surgeon. "He is patient and was able to help everybody."
The procedure is called cardiac catheterization. A medical professional inserts a catheter into an artery in the patient's leg that travels up into the heart, then distributes iodine into the system so doctors may easily view any problems in the area. Although any procedure that enters the body is invasive, Griffith said, patients undergoing the procedure were able to walk out of the hospital in a matter of hours.
Coming off the heels of his ninth procedure in two days, Griffith spoke with the press via telephone about his work with Guyana's cardiac doctors and interns. "These (types) of procedures are normal for St. Croix," Griffith said. "In Guyana, it's new for them."
At Stevens' request, Griffith traveled to Guyana with JFLH cath-lab nurse Zana Walsh. Stevens and Griffith met two years ago when the surgeon came to the Virgin Islands in search of newer and more effective ways of dealing with heart disease on Guyana.
"I don't think what happens in St. Croix is far removed from what happens in Guyana," Stevens said.
Of the nine patients Griffith and his colleagues were able to diagnose, all "had significant coronary-artery disease," Griffith said. The procedure is only the first step, and for some patients, Griffith said, the diagnosis of severe coronary artery disease might mean travel outside of Guyana and possible open-heart surgery.
The nine patients diagnosed were "very happy, concerned and appreciative" of his efforts, Griffith said, but now they have to figure out how to pay for the procedures they need.
Guyana's government has partnered with the hospital to assist patients with severe medical conditions seek treatment off the island, Stevens said. He hopes that with the knowledge Griffith is giving his team, the government will redirect its funds to aid the hospital in treating patients on the island.
"Right now we are all about diagnostics," Stevens said. "We are trying to get a surgery program together."
Stevens joked that he would like for Griffith to stay in Guyana and teach.
"I think St. Croix ought to be very proud of him," Stevens said.
Griffith took the compliment in stride, saying, "I think it's good that (JFLH) can be a part of this and show them what we can do."
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