In what can be described as a further growth and progress of healthcare services in the British Virgin Islands the Bougainvillea Clinic opened the Dr. Kendall Griffith Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (cath lab) on 27 October, the first of its kind in the Territory.
The new cath lab is groundbreaking as it offers a form of medical service that was previously unavailable in the BVI. The significance of the new facility was noted during an interview with The Island Sun newspaper on 30 October by Chief Medical Director of Bougainvillea Clinic Dr Heskith Vanterpool who explained that the new cath lab is not only first in the BVI, but is also first of its kind in the English speaking Eastern Caribbean north of Barbados.
Arriving at the point of opening the lab was a journey that started years earlier and Dr. Vanterpool explained that it was fitting that the facility is named after USVI based Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Kendall Griffith who has been a guiding hand in the implementation and offering of cardiac medical services at the clinic.
With state of the art equipment and supplementing medical items the new cath lab required significant investment. However, Dr. Vanterpool said that the facility was needed to render help to persons with various heart conditions.
He said that prevalence of heart disease here in the Territory is due to risk factors such as poor diet, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and sedentary lifestyles.
It is undoubtedly an impressive facility, and it was noted that the opening is the expansion of a dream that Dr. Vanterpool has nurtured for more than 10 years. He told The Island Sun: “For years I have had an interest in cardiology. In 2005 I returned to the United Kingdom to do some studies and training in cardiology. Returning to the BVI I made investment and effort to start a cardiology program.”
Dr. Vanterpool said that the program blossomed with the introduction of pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) installation and follow up clinics, as well as the implantation of other cardiac devices that did not require a cath lab.
Nonetheless, Dr. Vanterpool said that a cath lab became a necessity and it was something that he envisioned at the Bougainvillea Clinic for some time. “A cath lab was a dream of mine. Prior to the opening of this cath lab anybody who needed a procedure had to travel overseas — usually Puerto Rico for those procedures.”
While noting that cath labs are located in countries such as Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad, Dr. Vanterpool said that the new facility at Bougainvillea stands available for residents of the neighbouring Caribbean who may be unable to travel to the United States for treatment.
“I am hoping to make it this (cath lab) available for persons in the region who can’t go further afield,” Dr. Vanterpool noted.
Additionally, it was mentioned that the entire Bougainvillea Clinic has been outfitted and equipped with state of the art medical equipment as well as specialist and support staff to provide the services that patients may need. Nonetheless, Dr. Vanterpool said that more is being done to improve the facility. In fact, the plan is to ensure that patients have world class care when they enter the doors of the clinic.
In the area of cardiac procedures it was disclosed that over 40 pacemakers and ICD implantations have been done since the service was first offered in 2011. As the facility grows Dr. Vanterpool said that the ultimate goal will be to one day perform open heart surgeries.
He pointed out that the Bougainvillea Clinic which he acquired in 2010 continues to grow and expand in its goal to bring medical help to the people of the Territory. As the visionary behind the facility Dr. Vanterpool said: “I am surprised myself at what has been accomplished at the Bougainvillea Clinic. What you see here is not a one-man effort. I may be the visionary, but there are so many people who I am grateful for. I stand on their shoulders to make this work.”