Dr. Jeffrey Brumfield again led a team from the U.S. and Nicaragua of 18, including fellow electrophysiologist Dr. Sergio Cossu, from July 22-30, 2017. Working up to 16 hour days, in order to maximize their ability to see patients and especially to perform procedures, they saw a total of 103 patients, 47 of whom had their first consultation with the electrophysiology group, implanted 23 devices, the majority of them pacemakers, including upgrades and revisions, and performed ablations on 9 patients who did not have any other source of obtaining these vital procedures to rid them of life-threatening arrhythmias. Two of these procedures were performed using intracardiac echocardiography on one of the two new echocardiography machines purchased through PHL-donated funds during the past year. We appreciate the cooperation of all who assisted in making this trip a success, including the donation of devices by Medtronic and Boston Scientific.
In February 2018, we made our accustomed two-week journey to Nicaragua to provide direct medical care, which is often unavailable in Nicaragua because of the general impoverishment of the country and the scarcity of medical resources. We had over 50 participants from ECU, UNC-CH, Georgetown, Raleigh, Asheville, and other locations from coast to coast. We saw 270 patients in the cardiology clinic, and another 50 patients in the pediatric cardiology clinic. Many of these patients need catheter-based interventions or open heart surgery. The interventional team performed six very successful catheter-based procedures (two Atrial Septal Defect closures two Patent Ductus Arteriosus closures, and two openings of stenotic pulmonary valves), considerably augmenting their previous experience of openings of stenotic mitral valves, with an expanding itinerary of life saving procedures planned for the future. With respect to our educational goals, we had a total of nine students with us, five from the medical school, and four from the nurse practitioner program. They had a wonderful experience in a medical and cultural education, and worked closely together, an unusual example of inter-professional collaboration. We also regularly educated and worked with Nicaraguan medical students and residents. The nurses, led by Dr. Debra Kosko, maintained their extensive collaboration with their counterparts in the Rosales hospital, and functioned very efficiently in the clinics.
The students and several faculty members also participated in a local general medical clinic in a small nearby village (Poneloya) and in a large general clinic in the community of Lechecagua. A midwifery professor also joined us for the first time to explore educational opportunities for students. She will present a proposal to Dean Brown for consideration which may result in midwifery students joining the team in the future. We met with the dean of the medical school, the director of the hospital, and with many old friends and colleagues. We planned to return in September with the surgeons and interventional team to provide an unprecedented number of open heart surgeries and catheter-based interventions.