Photo: Medical supplies
A Hungarian cardiac surgeon with a “Latino heart” is directing from North Carolina a program that donates medical equipment to hospitals in Central America and provides training for their staffs.
Surrounded in his office at Carolinas Medical Center by numerous testimonials to his long, expert and kindhearted career, Dr. Francis Robicsek insisted that there is still “a lot of work to do.”
At 86, Robicsek is the center’s vice president for international medical outreach.
The physician and acknowledged international authority on cardiology began his philanthropic work during the 1970s in Honduras helping doctors perform cardiac surgery.
In 1975, the program extended to Guatemala, doing heart operations and donating needed equipment while training doctors and nurses.
“The best way to help is not to just go to those countries, donate some equipment and leave, but to train their people and make sure that they are capable of continuing on their own,” Robicsek, who emigrated to Charlotte from Hungary in 1956, told Efe.
Besides Honduras and Guatemala, the program provides services in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Belize, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia and Tanzania.
The doctor said that equipment no longer used at the hospital in Charlotte, having been replaced by newer models, mostly ends up at medical centers in those countries.
Between 2011 and 2012, the program delivered 6,000 computers for the use of both children and adults in Guatemala, a nation where 95 percent of schools lack access to the technology.
Robicsek said that training doctors in countries where the organization offers assistance is one of its basic goals.
He said that some very able Latin American doctors have come to Charlotte with the ambition of learning new techniques to help their communities.
One of the CMC experts training foreign doctors is Angel Perez.
“For me this is more than a job,” the Puerto Rican told Efe. “Every day we make a difference with the equipment donated to us from all parts of the world and with the training we provide. It makes us feel useful.”