DOCTOR VISIT

Dominican Republic 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

Medical tourism in the Dominican Republic has created demand for highly sophisticated healthcare services.

Dr. Victor Cuello
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Victor Cuello, a renowned cardiologist from the Dominican Republic, is the Medical Director of Clinica Corazones Unidos. He also serves as Director and President of the Corazones Unidos Foundation and as Editor of the Corazones Unidos medical publication. He conducted his academic studies at the Medical School of Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo and later pursued a PhD at Université Aix-Marseille, France, working for the Hospital de la Timone.

What have been the main achievements of the Clinic since 2017?

We have a new professional building, a new laboratory, and new surgery for kidney transplants. We have also developed new technologies, including techniques to treat irregular heartbeats and pacemaker extraction. We have been working in heart physiology the most. The intensive care unit is new, with eight beds and the latest generation monitors and ventilators. We started a neonatal intensive care unit for premature babies.

How important is medical tourism in the Dominican Republic?

Medical tourism is big. About 70% of our patients come from the US. We also have patients coming from Europe and the surrounding islands. There are a lot of Dominicans in Europe returning here to receive less expensive surgeries at a similar or higher quality. We do everything at Clinica Corazones Unidos, but plastic surgery is definitely the biggest part of medical tourism.

What makes Corazones Unidos different from other private clinics?

We have a personalized medical experience. Each patient has their own nurse. We do everything except heart transplantation and congenital heart disease in infants weighing less than 10kg. We are the first center to have a heart surgery program. We do approximately four open heart surgeries a week.

How does the Dominican Republic measure in terms of general health and health infrastructure?

We have an excellent health care system, one of the best in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic ranks higher than Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico; however, the same is not true for private and public healthcare centers. Unfortunately, there is a great difference between the private sector, those who can afford international insurance, and everyone else. We would like to see a more equal playing field for medicine in the future. The same facilities and resources are not always readily available in public hospitals. Since the 2001 social security law, we have noticed positive changes, although there is still a long way to go. There are better physicians and centers in private healthcare. Moreover, insurance companies send patients to specific places, not to where the patients request. SeNaSa is the best public insurance; however, other companies do not offer SeNaSa. This is the problem. I hope in the future SeNaSa will cover everything. I would like to see this in the next five to 10 years.

What are the future goals for the clinic?

At present, we will continue to expand our rooms and beds. We want to increase our patient capacity. We have future plans to increase our areas, including psychiatry. It is an area that is not well developed.