Letters to the Editor

Letter: Better if eye surgeries were done at KGH

To the editor:

The impact of a diagnosis that one requires immediate surgery to repair a detached retina is without a suitable adjective. This was the situation I faced on Thursday, Feb. 23 of this year as an optometrist here in Kelowna had me rushed to the office of an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon.

The urgency with which these two doctors made room in their busy schedule was a blessing and somewhat of a shock, as I moved toward an uncertain future suddenly blind in one eye.

From there, arrangements were made for me to travel to Kamloops on the following Tuesday to meet with the cataract and vitreoretinal surgeon that would perform the first surgery on my left eye on the morning of Thursday, March 1.

The doctors in Kelowna were skilled at the highest professional level, and the surgical team in Kamloops was brilliant.

As a citizen of the Okanagan for about 14 years, I must consider it my responsibility to bring a potential administrative oversight to your collective attention.

All Okanagan residents requiring vitreoretinal eye surgery must leave the valley they call home. The vast majority are sent to the Lower Mainland (deferring assets away from Interior Health), and about 20 per cent are dealt with in Kamloops. Whether victims of sporting, automobile, or other accidents; the need for vitreoretinal surgery is always urgent. It is also important not to overlook the requirements of the residents who have come here to retire or diabetics who may likely face emergencies of this nature.

These procedures often involve the injection of intraocular gas which can expand. This means that travel over mountain passes can be very painful, and air travel is not an option.

Every patient must also hope for a clear highway throughout the year and someone to provide for them and their families.

The recent upgrades at Kelowna General Hospital can now supply the necessary operating facilities. We also have capable surgeons with all the rights and privileges to accompany their impressive sets of credentials.

The use of Kelowna General Hospital would reduce the overall financial, physical and psychological burden for patients from the Okanagan to the Kootenays. Objection, scepticism and indifference are unlikely attitudes to this change of policy. It seems far more likely that your attitudes would embrace kindness, empathy and respect.

Therefore; I urge government to divert the human, financial and surgical resources at its disposal to address this situation as soon as possible.

Marcus F.L. Vroom,



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