Last January, Heart to Heart conducted our first ever surgical-educational mission to Lima, Peru. Five months later, we have returned to INCOR (National Cardiovascular Institute) with a full pediatric cardiac team, led by specialists Kirk Kanter (surgeon, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Frank Cetta (cardiologist, Mayo Clinic) and JoAnne Natale (intensive care, UC Davis). Working with our new Peruvian colleagues, our team of 10 specialists has examined more than a dozen babies and children born with moderate and severe heart defects. To help save these children, and now midway through our mission, we have performed well over one dozen bedside and intraoperative echocardiograms; 5 catheter-based diagnostic and surgical procedures; 4 open heart surgeries, and have provided post-operative care in INCOR’s busy 10-bed intensive care unit.
Heart to Heart’s program model succeeds in advancing patient care in a sustainable way because of our strong emphasis on team-wide education and training in all facets of pediatric cardiac medicine. For this reason, our multidisciplinary teams are always composed of experienced specialists from all subspecialties who are eager to teach and train. To help advance and expand Peru’s most established children’s heart program, we recruited many of our team members from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), a premier children’s heart center in the U.S. known for its high-volume program – more than 800 pediatric open heart cases per year! – and excellent patient care.
On this first pediatric mission at INCOR we all find ourselves working hard to establish clear lines of communication. High-level communication is our key to comprehending the local team’s knowledge base and skill sets – and how they function. We are also learning a considerable amount about the Peruvian medical system and its development challenges.
Once we return to the U.S., our specialists and staff will work together to review findings, make recommendations to our new INCOR colleagues, and work together to devise a 12-month program that fits into our overarching strategy – to help the INCOR, Lima team reach world-class standards of patient care for children born with heart defects.