Two decades ago, Heart Care International (HCI), a pioneer in the field of delivering humanitarian aid, began teaching and performing heart surgery on children born with congenital heart defects in developing countries. HCI has always held education and training of host country medical teams as its primary objective. It is only through education and apprenticeship training of local health care professionals that these physicians can eventually provide life-saving heart care independent of Heart Care International.
Heart Care International finds greater impact through close collaboration with other like-minded NGOs. The collective group can save the lives of far more children and expedite the development of the pediatric cardiac care team in the host country more effectively by working together.
In 1994, Heart Care International launched its first life-saving heart care mission to Guatemala. Dr. Robert Michler, Founder and Chairman of HCI, invited a cross-disciplinary team of medical professionals from around the country to volunteer their expertise on this inaugural trip. Dr. Michler, had a singular objective in mind: “To help children battling congenital heart disease and to train doctors and nurses on how to diagnose and treat heart disease”.
Reaching out to an international network of medical professionals, Heart Care International has helped identify other non-government organizations (NGOs) that can offer similar services in additional developing countries. Dr. Michler says, “Working closely with other like-minded NGOs means that we are able to leverage skill sets and physical resources to ensure that the host country receives the best in quality care and training across a longer time frame. Everyone wins!” While coordinating with various disparate groups can be logistically challenging at times, the benefits of these initiatives makes up for the challenges.
Maximizing the efficient use of physical resources (i.e., medical supplies, medicines and equipment).
Increasing the number and frequency of training opportunities and technical support available in the host country over an extended period of time.
Improving the overall quality of patient care.
After 20 years of conducting teaching missions and saving the lives of thousands of children in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Peru, the strong partnerships that have been developed will ensure the continuation of this vision for the next 20 years.