Letter: Address the access to retinal surgery shortfall

(Okanagan) people are required to finance travel and accommodations to travel to centres for surgery.

Open letter to Premier Christy Clark:

As you are campaigning in the upcoming Westside-Kelowna byelection, I am writing to inform you of a serious health care issue regarding the non-availability of retinal surgery in the Okanagan.

Currently, there are about 500 cases involving retinal surgery from the Central and South Okanagan areas that have to be referred to either Kamloops or to the Lower Mainland because a fully qualified retinal surgeon in Kelowna has been denied operating room time.

The Kelowna General Hospital has added new operating rooms with the completion of the new tower, however, there has been no time allocated for retinal surgery.

As a result of this situation, people are required to finance travel and accommodations to the above mentioned centres for surgery.

In most cases, this requires at least two trips per procedure and results in the loss of work time, thus a loss of tax revenue to the province, coupled with the incurred expenses and inconvenience to the patient and his/her support person.

Basically, these procedures are usually performed as day surgery requiring one to two hours in the OR, which translates into three or more days of lost time and money to the patient.

I feel this situation is an injustice to the citizens of the Okanagan, as both the facilities and talent to perform these critical operations are readily available in Kelowna.

All that is required is for the ministry of health and the Interior Health Authority to get together and resolve the issue of availability of OR time and retinal surgery.

This letter has been written as a result of personally having had to travel to Vancouver for two procedures involving four trips and all the associated expenses and time lost in the last 12 months, and I realize that I’m not the worst case scenario.

I would encourage you, as a candidate in the upcoming byelection for this area, to champion this issue with your colleagues and Interior Health so that the constituents of the Central and South Okanagan are better served in their communities.

Robert Ross,



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