by Faith Adams, Communications Director
7,750 miles separate Minneapolis and Kolkata, India. And in many ways these two cities really are a world apart. But a new partnership aims to shorten that distance by reducing some of the disparities.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed and a new Children’s HeartLink partnership launched between the pediatric cardiac teams at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences in Kolkata.
The ultimate goal of this partnership is to shorten the waiting list for children with heart disease by training and mentoring more specialists in pediatric cardiac care.
Our new partner site serves a large region of northwestern India. Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, a state with a population of over 90 million. Last year the pediatric cardiac team there performed 1,200 open heart surgeries and 1,500 diagnostic and interventional procedures, but it needs to strengthen its clinical and organizational capabilities in order to reach more children.
The need is great. Worldwide, one in 120 children are born with congenital heart disease, and 90 percent of these children live where there is inadequate medical care. In India, with a population of 1.25 billion, there are only 120 pediatric cardiologists.
Surgeon Dr. David Overman of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is also a medical director on Children’s HeartLink’s Board of Directors. “I find this work very rewarding professionally,” says Dr. Overman. “And even more rewarding are the human connections we make and the relationships we establish with people in these countries, almost invariably under difficult circumstances, working to effect positive change.”
In February the team from Children’s made the trip to Kolkata for a site assessment visit. And recently clinicians from the Kolkata team spent a week of observational training at Children’s in Minneapolis, seeing up close how the pediatric cardiac team here works together, with an emphasis on the team-based care so important to good patient outcomes.
The pediatric cardiac team from Children’s was previously a partner to a Children’s HeartLink program in Brazil.
Dr. Emmanuel Rupert and Ms. Kalindi Gupta, senior nurse manager from Kolkata, said they appreciated the opportunity to observe and learn from the team at Children’s and the warm welcome they received from the staff. “They were very nice people, with very open hearts,” said Ms. Gupta.