Recognizing that cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in Albania, Jacobi Medical Center will open an Albanian Cardiovascular Clinic (ACC) to serve the borough’s large population.

Jacobi aims to launch the ACC in September to serve the Albanian communities of Norwood, Pelham Parkway, and Belmont in the Bronx. As per a 2019 report, chronic heart disease attributed to 29.4 percent of all fatalities in Albania.

The director of Cardiovascular Consultative Services, Dr. Eleonora Gashi-Baraliu, and Quality for Jacobi’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, will direct the ACC. Gashi-Baraliu, has been with Jacobi since 2018, she is an Albanian herself and recognizes the importance of the facility in her society.

According to the doctor, Albanian food contains a large amount of red meat, their people smoke cigarettes and avoid going to the doctor for regular chech-ups.

“My heart was always in the Bronx. As an immigrant who trained in Manhattan for general and interventional cardiology,” she explained. “I happened upon Jacobi by chance, and I enjoy showing up for work every day because I get to work with and serve such a diverse community.”

“It is only logical for me to continue expanding and providing healthcare to the Albanian public in the ACC while still fulfilling my duties and caring for all the patients who come through Jacobi’s open doors.”

Several members of the Bronx’s Albanian community now visit Jacobi Medical Center’s Illyria Family Practice. People from Kosovo escaped the country as a result of the war in 1999 and decided to settle in the Bronx, where they entered an already growing Albanian population. Dr. Alan Ross from Jacobi Medical Center established a local practice to serve them, particularly those who were unable to communicate in English.

Gashi-Baraliu sincerely hope that Illyria’s success will encourage Albanians to visit the ACC for their cardiovascular check-ups. She claims that many Albanians make excuses for not visiting the doctor, but she hopes that this will persuade them otherwise.

“When the opportunity presented itself,” Gashi-Baraliu explained, “I thought, here’s an opportunity of doing something.”

Cardiovascular consultations, treadmill exercise stress tests, echocardiograms, holter monitoring,  stress echo, nuclear stress tests, coronary CT angiography,  diagnostic angiograms, percutaneous coronary interventions, and cardiac MRIs will all be available at the ACC.

Illyria Clinic will refer the majority of patients, but some will come through by word – of – mouth . The Illyria Clinic reports that 20 to 30 patients per week require cardiology services.

The center will be beneficial, as per the doctor, as it “allows patients to have cultural comfort and removes communication as a roadblock to healthcare disparity, enabling patients to be more proactive with their own care and reach the doctor on their own.”

Gashi-Baraliu is convinced that Albanian citizens will attend the clinic, just as they consult the hospital’s general cardiology clinic.

“Many parents are reluctant to come because they believe they are inconveniencing their children by taking time away from work to see doctors,” she explained. “However, they will be much more likely to visit to see a doctor for their health issues if they have someone who can communicate in their native language.” “I attempt to change a single person at a time,” she says, adding that one of her goals is to hold community educational sessions focusing on healthy and nutritious lifestyle habits in order to eventually alter the course of the burden of disease.

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