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Southeast Anesthesiologists Integral to Efforts That Promote Sustainable Healthcare in Developing Countries

Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants’ physicians continue to volunteer on surgical teams that travel regularly to Central America and other countries to perform procedures and, perhaps equally important, train physicians there to do the surgeries on their own.

 

Their work is part of the International Medical Outreach Program, a partnership between Carolinas HealthCare Systemand the Hiemann Research Institute of Charlotte whose mission is to create and promote sustainable healthcare in medically underserved countries.

Over five decades of existence, the outreach program has trained hundreds of medical personnel across Central America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Foreign physicians have been brought to Carolinas Medical Center for continuing education.

The program also refurbishes and donates medical equipment to hospitals and clinics across the globe; installs and furnishes entire hospital units and departments such as intensive care units and operating rooms; and ensures continuous delivery of medical supplies and other materials.

Miraculously, the outreach program provides all of its services at no cost to the countries involved. As a result of its work, the level of care has advanced dramatically in the 26 countries served to date.

Achievements made possible by the program include the first open-heart surgery performed in Belize in May 2012, installation of the country’s first cardiac catheterization laboratory in February of that same year, the first heart transplant surgery in Costa Rica in 2007, and opening of a heart institute in Guatemala City in 1984 -- the largest, most comprehensive facility of its kind in Central America.

Dr. Raj Mehta is the SAC anesthesiologist who participated most recently. He traveled to Belize in May with a surgical team that helped establish a cardiac surgery clinic and performed two coronary artery bypass procedures.

“Since I became a physician, a personal goal has been to work on humanitarian projects. So I was very excited when I got the opportunity to go to Belize.” Mehta said. “The most interesting part of the trip was working hand in hand with the people there to set up their cardiac surgery program. It was a beautiful and friendly country and I plan on returning in the future.”

Southeast’s Dr. Alan Klochany will travel to Belize in October.

In February 2013, Dr. Joseph Coyle made his third trip to Belize. “Giving back to your community locally and internationally is a moral obligation,” he said. “It is important to reach out and provide a helping hand to countries that are not as developed as we are in the medical arena. It is exciting to be a part of a group that is committed to giving back beyond the dollar that they see in return. I am happy and proud to be a part of this initiative.”

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