New Cardiac Care Unit Represents ‘Can-do’ Culture

June 21, 2013, marked a momentous occasion as delegates and leaders from the Kenyan Ministery of Health gathered with colleagues from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and AMPATH Consortium partners, Duke and Indiana Universities, to celebrate the opening of a ten bed cardiac care unit in Western Kenya. Replete with Kenyan dancers and singers, the opening ceremony for the cardiac care unit was the culmination of a four year effort, funded primarily by the Hock Family Foundation and the Duke Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health, to bring better cardiac care to western Kenya.

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Duke’s Dr. Eric Velazquez shared in his opening remarks that many health policy experts might advocate against spending limited resources on a cardiac care unit or a cardiac diagnostic center to serve only a few suffering from the later stages of chronic cardiac disease when faced with an entire population in need of disease prevention. But he emphasized that we have an ethical, moral imperative to do what we can for those with advanced stages of disease while we advance prevention for all. This is a lesson learned from one of AMPATH’s founders, Dr. Joe Mamlin, and all others at the forefront of Africa’s response to HIV/AIDS— “Treatment is Prevention.”

The new cardiac care unit at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital represents much more than just a physical space to treat ten critically ill patients. It represents a clinical center of excellence and education where physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and students can experience human physiology and medicine in action and enhance their fundamental medical knowledge and familiarity with cardiopulmonary disease conditions previously hidden from view.

It represents a place where clinical and administrative staff will abolish the “culture of disbelief” that all too often permeates the air on the wards. Instead, the cardiac care unit will foster a “can do” culture of early accurate diagnosis and careful monitoring, where prompt appropriate and available treatment can save a life. It will positively affect the lives of communities when patients return home and continue to contribute to their family’s well-being instead of leaving wives and husbands without spouses or children without parents. It will drive greater confidence and knowledge among healthcare workers and greater confidence in the healthcare system among patients and families. With the transformation in care delivery, this cardiac care unit will no longer represent a small ten bed unit for critically ill cardiac patients, but will have become the spark plug for cardiovascular health and prevention across the entire region.

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If any Consortium Partners are interested in participating in the Cardiac Care Center’s activities, please contact Cynthia Binanay at