The year of 2015 brought remarkable changes to Cuba. In July of 2015, the U.S and the Cuban governments simultaneously opened embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C. respectively. In January of 2016 the travel restrictions to Cuba for U.S. not for profit humanitarian organizations were lifted and a formal U.S. Department of Treasury license was no longer a prerequisite for working in Cuba. These historic changes allowed Hearts Around the World, Inc. to surge ahead with plans to establish a cardiovascular exchange program between our organization and the Institute of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery in Havana.
In April of 2015, Dr. Eli Gelfand, Dr. Manuel Fontes and Dr. Robert Jarrett spent a week in Havana meeting the Cuban physicians and determining how we could best assist each other in advancing cardiovascular medicine and surgery in their country. Seven months later, Hearts Around the World, Inc. sponsored our first full cardiovascular team in Havana. Members of the team, included Dr. Atilio Barbeito, anesthesiologist; Dr. Manuel Fontes, anesthesiologist; Dr. Al Dimeo, Cardiac Surgeon; Dr. James Freeman, Electrophysiologist; Dr. Mark Warshofsky, Interventional Cardiologist; Dr. Andrew Keller, Cardiologist and Information Technology Specialist and Dr. Robert Jarrett, cardiologist and President, Hearts Around the World, Inc.
The mission was highly successful in both building strong Cuban-American relationships and promoting better cardiovascular care to the people of Cuba. We have much to accomplish and Hearts Around the World plans to send three teams a year to Havana. In addition, beginning summer of 2016, we will begin to host the Cuban physicians in the U.S for 3 month periods of advanced training.
We believe this groundbreaking project is the first multi-institutional cardiovascular education program in Havana and we expect it to yield amazing long term results. The next team will leave in April, 2016. Stand by for updates.