Monday, August 1, 2011

Honduras hospital transplanted from CMC-Lincoln

In 1986, Dr. Francis Robicsek led the team of surgeons who performed the first heart transplant in Charlotte.
This month, he’s celebrating a “hospital transplant.”


Through Robicsek’s widespread connections in Central America, equipment from the old Lincoln Medical Center in Lincolnton is now furnishing a new burn hospital for children in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Robicsek will be sitting with the president of Honduras at the dedication Aug. 15. He has nicknamed the new hospital “Lincoln Memorial Honduras.”
The Lincolnton hospital’s used equipment – beds and stretchers, operating room lamps and tables, scrub sinks (see above) – would be worth about $800,000 if purchased new.

In the United States it was worth nothing, Robicsek said. "New hospitals won’t take used equipment.” But in Honduras, he said, “It was worth it’s weight in gold.”

The idea for the donation took shape in 2009 after Carolinas HealthCare System announced plans to replace the Lincolnton hospital, now called Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln, with a new $90 million building that opened in 2010.

When Robicsek learned the old equipment was going into storage, he offered a better idea.

For years, he has arranged donations of used equipment to hospitals in Central America through organizations supported by Carolinas HealthCare. In the last 20 months, about $5 million in used equipment has furnished cardiac catheterization laboratories and other hospital units in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Belize and Haiti.

Robicsek and Theresa Johnson, coordinator of the international outreach project, met with Pete Acker, chief executive officer at CMC-Lincoln. With Acker’s support, Johnson visited the old Lincolnton hospital before it was demolished and measured everything. The Hondurans built their new hospital based on her specifications, months before their donated equipment arrived. (See photo of delivery day below.)

“Rather than sitting in a warehouse, this equipment now has a second, extremely useful life,” Acker said. “To be able to serve children in such great need, it’s really an incredible story.”

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