During a two-day trip to Charlotte, NC, the First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez, visited Carolinas HealthCare System’s Carolinas Medical Center and during the tour recognized the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte and Carolinas HealthCare System for its ongoing support to develop sustainable healthcare in Guatemala through medical equipment donations and education.

 (Left to right) Francis Robicsek, MD, PhD, president of Heineman; First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez; and Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System

(Left to right) Francis Robicsek, MD, PhD, president of Heineman; First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez; and Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System

Over the past two years, Heineman has worked with the First Lady’s foundation, Secretaría de Obras Sociales de la Esposa del Presidente (SOSEP), to provide quality healthcare equipment and services to Guatemalan hospitals and clinics in need.

“I am grateful to the program for its support and am here to say thank you on behalf of the thousands of Guatemalans who have benefited from your contributions,” Leal de Pérez said. “I want to congratulate the great teams that make Carolinas Medical Center a beautiful place and a great place to receive care.”

Rohit Mehta, MD, cardiologist with Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute (right), talks about cardiac catheterization procedures with the First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez, and Gerardo Pérez, language service manager for Carolinas HealthCare System.

Rohit Mehta, MD, cardiologist with Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute (right), talks about cardiac catheterization procedures with the First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez, and Gerardo Pérez, language service manager for Carolinas HealthCare System.

Leal de Pérez was involved in Heineman’s recent donations of infant beds, warmers, monitors and other equipment to a neonatal intensive care unit in Guatemala’s Hospital Regional de Cobán. Since the equipment installation in January, infant mortality in the unit has decreased by half. In December 2014, the First Lady joined Heineman officials for the opening of an echocardiography (echo) laboratory opening in Hospital Regional de Zacapa. Echo machines are used to diagnose heart problems in children and adults. By donating the machines and training technicians to operate them, Heineman helps hospitals provide access to this life-saving service.

First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez, receives a tour of the patient rooms in the intensive care unit at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez, receives a tour of the patient rooms in the intensive care unit at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

“The network of echo labs bring cardiac diagnosis into the modern age for millions and facilitate the delivery of cardiac services at low or no cost,” said Francis Robicsek, MD, PhD, president of Heineman. “We look forward to continuing our mission to develop sustainable, quality healthcare in Central America and healthier communities in Guatemala.”

The echo lab opening in Zacapa was part of an Echo Lab Network project launched in 2010 by Heineman and by Guatemala’s cardiac center, UNICAR. The project aims to provide 13 rural hospitals in Central America with fully-functional echo labs. In Guatemala, eight rural hospitals now have these labs and have provided more than 12,300 echocardiograms to thousands of patients. 

For over 50 years, Heineman has supported hospitals and clinics in over 30 countries with medical equipment and supplies, and with free educational opportunities for medical personnel from facilities worldwide. In Guatemala, it has facilitated the first open heart surgeries, developed robust cardiology and cardiac surgery programs, and equipped primary care clinics and operating rooms, among other care settings.