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KHMH Celebrating 18th Birthday Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00

KHMH Media MixerThe Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is celebrating its 18th anniversary and on Wednesday, September 18th, the institution’s management team held a mixer with the press to speak about its medical advancement in the past year and how it has responded to the devastating outbreak in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


Maria Elena Sylvestre, Member of the Board of Governors, reminded the media that the most common phrase heard in news is “the individual was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital” and more than ninety percent of the time that is followed by “he or she is listed as being in a stable condition”. She says the institution deserves better coverage because it provides the highest level of medical care in the country and the media should reflect that.

Dr. Adrian Coye, Director of Medical Services, says the institution has advanced tremendously in recent years and the last twelve months have been historic. The KHMH currently conducts more than 350 surgical operations per month. He says the dialysis program continues to be a huge success even after the partnership with the World Organization of Renal Therapies came to an end. There have been no deaths in the program over the last two years and individuals receive quality treatment that would cost them US$2 to 3,000 abroad for $300 here at home. In the last year the hospital has conducted more than 50 laparoscopic surgeries. The hospital also proudly announced that there have been nine spine surgeries, four major heart surgeries and more than 100 cardiac catheterizations in the last year.

The majority of the hospital’s expenses are covered by the Government of Belize. However, there has been an increase in support from the private sector with the adopt a ward program. Private firms have remodeled wards and made great contributions to the hospital. The international medical community has also contributed greatly to the development of the institution. Their information sharing, training and donations of equipment has made it possible for the hospital to provide services it has never offered before.

While the hospital is celebrating its 18th birthday, the management reflects on the outbreak that led to the death of eight neonates and unveils its strategy to improve the infection control system. Chief Executive Officer of the KHMH, Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth, says “The hospital is doing its best to implement the recommendations made by PAHO by September 30th.” Longsworth says the first thing we knew we had to do was to rebuild the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and fix the structural shortfalls. A fully air conditioned temporary NICU has been set up and treats 16 to 20 neonates regularly. The old NICU is being renovated and expanded to meet normal demand. The previous unit had space for 10 patients. The renovated unit will be able to treat 22. The hospital has also updated policies on infection control and the Pan American Health Organization will monitor the institution to ensure it is in compliance. Dr. Longsworth says there has already been two unannounced visits by PAHO officials. Since the incident the hospital has received tremendous support from international agencies wishing to assist in improving infection control measures. A Mexican epidemiologist team has made three visits since the outbreak; one to assess the situation and two to train nurses on best practices for intra-venal treatment. Joe Bryan, an epidemiologic specialist from the United States’ Center for Disease Control, has made numerous trips to Belize at his own expense to assist the hospital in improving its infection control system. The hospital has also improved surveillance on infection and drafted a new intervention strategy that focuses on proper sterilization and disinfection. Dr. Longsworth says the hospital will continue reaching out to those “God sends” for technical support when the permanent Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is completed. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is a $6 million project being spearheaded by Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow.