The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) launched three new heart clinics last month as it aggressively steps up its clinical program against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The three new Cardiac Primary Care Clinics (CPCC) were commissioned at health centers in the outlying communities in an effort to boost capacity, improve patient convenience and decentralize primary medical care at the Cardiac and Chest Pain Clinic of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC).
Cardiac related diseases are one of the leading types of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) affecting citizens today, and the new Cardiac Primary Care Clinics (CPCC) are one of several key initiatives designed by the Authority to reach citizens in the region who are at risk. Other initiatives, such as their “Walk the Talk” and “In Touch” outreach programs have also been established to assist in combatting NCDs. Through the “Walk the Talk” program, the NCRHA has been networking with religious and other institutions to provide onsite screening to clients, while the “In Touch” program takes the service home to critical patients.
NCRHA’s Chief Executive Officer, Davlin Thomas said, with alarming statistics showing that more than one third of all deaths in Trinidad and Tobago were linked to heart disease, the North Central Regional Health Authority has stepped up its campaign to build awareness and reach out to thousands of citizens who are at high risk of non-communicable diseases (NDCs).
The slow progressive nature of non-communicable diseases often leave persons unaware, which often results in late detection. However, through these programs, the NCRHA was able to intercept a number of high risk cases which emphasized the need for the clinics in the wider communities.
The CPCCs, which will be housed at the St Joseph Health Facility, the Arima District Hospital and the Chaguanas District Hospital respectfully, will decentralize the tertiary cardiac clinic at Mt Hope, thus making primary care for heart patients more accessible to patients living in the remote areas of the North-Central region. Managing NCDs require discipline and consistency by both the patients and the medical practitioners. The expansion to the minor health institutions is consistent with the NCRHA’s people-centered strategy to make services more convenient and therefore has the capacity to improve patient attendance and cardiac management.
With doctors currently seeing more than 1,500 outpatients every month at the Cardiology Clinic at Mt Hope, the new primary care clinics will assist in reducing the waiting list for critical procedures, as well as the time patients spent at the clinic waiting to see a doctor.
“The new CPCCs will make it easier for doctors to spend more time with their patients as they will be closer to the communities they serve. This also helps to improve their understanding of the living environment and the lifestyles of their patients, to improve the effectiveness of the care provided. This will ultimately improve disease management and patient participation in the healing process,” said Dr. Abdul Hamid, General Manager – Primary Care Services at the NCRHA.
He said the CPCC will receive referrals from the tertiary level clinic at Mt Hope, so the management of outpatients can be facilitated closer to patient’s homes, reducing their cost of travelling, improving attendance and facilitating support from their family circle. The new clinics will simultaneously reduce the volume of patients being managed at the centralized clinic at Mt Hope.
Dr Hamid said over time, the clinic at Mt Hope will get the opportunity to focus on tertiary level, critically ill patients who can receive more specialized attention from doctors.
“All patients will be cleared clinically by the cardiology clinic at the EWMSC and will receive follow up care in a peripheral primary-care setting, thus alleviating the congestion at the cardiology clinic and bringing healthcare services closer to the people,” added Dr. Hamid.
The World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that in Trinidad and Tobago, cardiovascular disease accounted for an overwhelming 32 percent of total deaths in 2014 (for all ages and both sexes). The report states that Non communicable diseases (NCDs), i.e. heart diseases, lung diseases, diabetes and kidney diseases together accounted for an estimated 80 percent of all deaths that year.
“This figure can be drastically reduced when people become aware of their risk and they take positive action to make meaningful changes to their diets, adding exercise to their daily routines and take advantage of opportunities for regular screening,” added Dr Hamid.
The additional clinics will operate in support of the main clinic and will accept patient referrals who have been discharged from the hospital or are currently enrolled in the main clinic at Mt Hope.
The three health facilities within the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) where Cardiology Primary Care Clinic (CPCC) services will be accessed are: St Joseph Enhanced Health Centre, the Chaguanas District Health Facility and the Arima District Health Facility.
The schedule for the CPCCs are as follows:
- Mondays – 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon – St Joseph Enhanced Health Centre
- Tuesdays – 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon – Chronic Disease Clinic, Chaguanas District Health Facility
- Thursdays – 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon – Chronic Disease Clinic, Arima District Health Facility
Dated: 17 August 2017