Minneapolis and Kolkata, India, are separated by 7,750 miles, and in many ways these two cities really are a world apart.
But a new partnership between the pediatric cardiac teams at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences in Kolkata aims to shorten that distance and reduce some of the disparities.
The ultimate goal of this partnership is to shorten the waiting list for children with heart disease in that region of India by training and mentoring more specialists in pediatric cardiac care.
Minneapolis-based nonprofit Children’s HeartLink made this match, which is not a short-term arrangement but the beginning of a long-term partnership. The pediatric cardiac team from Children’s Minnesota previously was a Children’s HeartLink partner to a program in Brazil.
“I find this work very rewarding professionally,” David Overman, MD, surgeon and medical director on Children’s HeartLink’s board of directors, said. “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.”
CHILDRENSMN.ORG: Children’s Minnesota cardiovasular program
Last year the team from Children’s Minnesota made the trip to Kolkata for a site assessment visit. After that, clinicians from the Kolkata team spent a week of observational training at Children’s Minnesota, 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 need is great. Worldwide, 1 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.
Children’s HeartLink believes that training and mentoring are the best way to leave a lasting impact in parts of the world where there are so many children with heart disease and so few specialists in pediatric cardiology. And when these cardiac programs in underserved parts of the world advance to become centers of excellence, they become training centers for their region.
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 Minnesota and the warm welcome they received from the staff.
“They were very nice people, with very open hearts,” Ms. Gupta said.