Dr Ernest Madu's shining example for the GovernmentTuesday, October 26, 2021
Word of Heart Institute of the Caribbean's (HIC) planned multimillion-dollar expansion on Sunday was a respite after a week of bad news for the country.
Dr Ernest Madu, a man who has been quietly giving to Jamaica, has signed a partnership with AMPC International Health Consultants — a leading global health-care management and hospital development company in Amsterdam — to build an international heart and multi-specialty hospital in Jamaica that will model the likes of the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Dr Madu, the founder and consultant cardiologist at HIC, told this newspaper last week that the new hospital is estimated to cost between US$35 million and US$50 million and will be built in Kingston. It will provide 75 beds, with 50 dedicated to heart and vascular disease patients. The remaining 25 will be dedicated to other specialty areas.
Among the services to be introduced are cardiovascular procedures currently not offered locally, such as cardiac left ventricular assist devices, transaortic valve replacement — a minimally invasive surgery that avoids cutting the heart open to replace the valve; mitraclip valve repair procedure, and cardiac MRI, which has not been done locally before.
Medical care in general is not cheap. That reality is known to be a factor influencing some Jamaicans to take chances with their health. Against that background, HIC's tiered pricing model for treatment makes sense and is giving many people access to first-class medical services.
We had previous knowledge of Dr Madu's generous contribution to Jamaica over many years. The HIC Foundation has told us that those contributions amount to more than US$100 million in free or subsidised care to indigent patients each year since 2008. Some of those patients, he said, are sent to HIC by charities such as Missionaries Of the Poor and Food For the Poor, as well as parliamentarians.
“We have had people do the most expensive services at zero cost because they are indigent. We cannot do it for everyone, because we wouldn't survive. If you have insurance, we expect insurance companies to honour your premiums, but if you are a poor man living under a bridge and are having a heart attack, we take care of you,” Dr Madu said.
“What we are doing is democratising cardiovascular specialty care so that every citizen at least has access,” he added.
Dr Madu deserves the highest commendation for the service he and his team at HIC are providing to Jamaicans and for his insight on the need for this new hospital. His is the kind of thinking that we have been encouraging the Government to adopt as we confront the novel coronavirus pandemic.
We reiterate that now is the best time to seek funding for what we suggest should be a comprehensive build-out of the island's medical infrastructure designed to give us the ability to respond to the pandemic, and any future epidemic, while improving public health facilities for other patients.
If, per chance, the Government finds itself devoid of the ability to format such a plan, it could consult Dr Madu and other forward-thinking professionals like him who, given their contribution to the country, are not simply running down profits.