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Boston hospitals are partners for good health.

From executive checkups to state-of-the-art treatments for life-threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer and brain tumors, a partnership between two renowned teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School provides expert care to patients of all ages around the world.

"Our hospitals are consistently ranked among the top ten in the United States, and we have enormous capabilities in every medical and surgical specialty and subspecialty," says Dr. Gilbert Mudge, cardiologist, director of heart transplantation and chairman of the international committee at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Our expertise extends to every area of clinical care and clinical research."

In 1994, Harvard's two largest teaching hospitals merged to better serve the health needs of people in Boston and the broader United States. Today, through the Partners International Program, the medical expertise of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), and the other Partners hospitals is available to patients from Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Our hospitals' approach to patient care emphasizes the personal touch," says Dr. Timothy Guiney, cardiologist and medical director of the International Patient Center at MGH. "We believe in hands-on care in a very technological world. We have built strong associations with our many international patients over the years."

The Partners hospitals have the largest combined cardiovascular program in the United States, as well as the largest oncology program through a joint venture with Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Other centers of excellence include neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, general surgery and women's health. The Massachusetts General Hospital for Children is dedicated to serving young people from all over the world with difficult medical problems. Partners also operates Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the largest rehab hospital in the U.S.

Cardiac care is one of the leading specialties at the Partners' hospitals. For example, Dr. Igor Palacios, a native of Venezuela, is a leading interventional cardiologist at MGH who repairs damaged blood vessels, closes holes in hearts and performs other complex procedures that formerly would have required open heart surgery. Dr. Steve Oesterle heads the hospital's active research program on advanced cardiac devices.

As part of the broad Partners' cancer program, MGH has the largest program for proton beam treatment in the world. Proton therapy is used for very precisely aimed radiation treatments, such as attacking brain and eye tumors without damaging nearby tissue.

At BWH, Dr. Peter Black leads a renowned program in neurosurgery that incorporates the latest research techniques, including the world's first Intra-operative Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine. This device allows surgeons to operate inside the imaging field so they have real-time visual information to guide them during surgery. Other advanced programs include gynecology, oncology, orthopedics and other aspects of women's health.

In addition to providing top-rated clinical care, the Partners' hospitals are dedicated to advancing knowledge about disease and have taught generations of practitioners and leaders of medicine. "Research and teaching are essential components of our hospitals' mission," says Dr. Guiney. "There is a great deal of interplay between what goes on at the laboratory and the clinical research level and what eventually becomes widespread clinical practice."

Latin American patients coming to the Partners hospitals can obtain assistance in scheduling appointments and making travel arrangements through the International Office at each hospital. "With advance notice, we can arrange for native-language reception and transportation upon arrival at and departure from Boston's Logan Airport, as well as transportation to the first medical appointment," says Dr. Mudge. To meet the needs of international patients and their families, the Partners' hospitals can arrange for conveniently located lodging.

"We have concierge services that address the unique needs of international patients," says Dr. Guiney. "Our quality control mechanisms also allow us to coordinate the care we provide in Boston with care back in the patient's home country."
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Publication:Latin Trade
Date:Aug 1, 2000
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