Published On: Sat, Dec 1st, 2012

Dutch hospital to set up heart unit at Sehos

WILLEMSTAD - Heart patients from Curacao and region might benefit in the near future from the new heart catheterisation unit that will be constructed at the Sehos Hospital in Curaçao in cooperation with the Catharina Hospital of Eindhoven.

Curaçao-born intervention cardiologist Sam de la Fuente is returning to his island in March next year to help set up the unit which should be operational by the summer, announced Chairman of the Board of the Catharina Hospital Piet Batenburg at the congress of the InterExpo trade mission in Eindhoven this week.

Director of the funding agency USONA Reginaldo Doran confirmed the plans and said that the contract would be signed after his organisation had received a letter from the Government. The catheterisation unit, also referred to as the "Cat Room," is one of the last projects that will be financed through USONA.

A catheterisation unit is an important part of the acute treatment of heart complications, explained Batenburg. Procedures like catheterisation and dotter treatment are currently not possible in Curaçao. Patients have to be sent abroad, mostly to hospitals in Medellin and Miami.

"Sending a patient abroad takes more time and in some acute cases this can be fatal. Treating these patients at home can save lives," said Batenburg, who explained that Curaçao scores very high internationally where it comes to heart attacks.

In Curaçao most heart patients are being treated with thrombosis medication which is a lot more aggressive than the modern techniques that are offered at a catheterisation unit. He said that the unit can also treat patients from neighbouring islands.

Treating patients in Curaçao instead of sending them abroad will also save the local insurance companies a lot of money. He said that insurance companies, including the Social Insurance Bank (SVB), currently spend about 7.5 million euros to treat 3,700 patients, mostly abroad. A local heart center can reduce these costs up to 50 per cent.

According to Batenburg, patients with complicated heart problems will still have to be sent abroad for heart operations. "We cannot do everything locally because there are not enough patients for that," he said.

The Catharina Hospital will send two intervention cardiologists to Curaçao. The hospital, specialized in cardiology and dotter procedures, will assist with the training of personnel and give advice on the construction and management of the catheterisation unit.

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