Chronic pain sufferers desperate for treatment
To the editor:
Most residents of the Okanagan are unaware that we have two months to appeal to Interior Health to provide funding for the pain clinic at Kelowna General Hospital.
Chronic pain impacts every aspect of the affected person’s life, as well as that of his/her family. Every one of us is simply one traffic accident or other mishap away from needing this pain clinic.
Living with 24-hour pain that cannot be controlled is unbelievably difficult, and the pain clinic and its dedicated doctors do an excellent job of reducing it to a bearable level, thus returning many people to a productive, more normal life.
However, we recently lost a wonderful pain management specialist, Dr. Karl Muendel, to Nanaimo because Interior Health would not provide the necessary funding for a C-arm machine ($230,000) and staff that would allow him to do the work for which he is trained.
He was raised here and wanted to stay, but Nanaimo offered him the support that IH would not.
If IH does not provide funding for one nurse within two months, the remaining doctors will not be able to continue to maintain the KGH pain clinic. At present, they are even using a treatment machine that they themselves purchased. They simply cannot continue their life-saving work without support.
What they need, and are requesting, right now is just one nurse; however, they estimate that it would only cost about $300,000 per year to fully fund this clinic (this includes providing a radiologist) and continue treating hundreds of desperate patients.
If this is provided within the next 6 months, it is probable that Dr. Muendel will return.
This amount is tiny compared to what is spent on cancer and heart treatments for a patient, whether or not they can survive, but those diseases have a higher profile. As a two-time cancer survivor who is very grateful for the treatment I received, I certainly am not advocating reducing funding in those areas; I simply want to make people aware that what is spent on one cancer or heart patient could provide pain relief for hundreds in the pain clinic.
IH is focusing on the new heart facility, of which it is justifiably proud, but it should not be at the expense of those living with unbearable pain. The sad fact is that without treatment, many who can no longer tolerate horrific, unrelenting pain resort to suicide.
Sending a letter, or even a note, of support for the pain clinic can change or save many lives, and may well be the most important thing you have ever done.
Please let your support be known to:
cc to firstname.lastname@example.org