Letter: Health care puts quota on hearing

I recently lost my job as a registered nurse, due to my inability to hear. The surgery is a two-year wait away.

To the editor:

I am a registered nurse and I used to be able to see first hand how the system was broken in the hospital.

Now, I am a patient, who desperately needs surgery to have the opportunity to return to work as a registered nurse. But the surgery is a two-year wait away!

Two years is too long to wait no matter what surgery it is that you need. For me, it is a surgery to help me hear again — a cochlear implant. A basic sense, hearing. I am 35 years old and have severe to profound bilateral idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss.

I have recently lost my job as a registered nurse, due to my inability to hear.

I have met with a wonderful surgeon at St. Paul’s Hospital who is ready and willing to do my surgery. Her name is Dr. Jane Lea. The only problem is, that the cochlear implant program at St. Paul’s hospital is underfunded. Meaning, Dr. Lea’s hands are tied. She wants to help more people to be able to hear again, but the hospital won’t fund any additional surgeries.

Dr. Lea is constantly pleading the case of her department to try and secure extra funding, but has been unsuccessful up till this point.

Currently St. Paul’s Hospital is funded for 35 surgeries per year. That is it — 35 surgeries. So, if my math is correct, there are at least 70 people also waiting, just like me for this surgery.

Something needs to be done, some light needs to be shed to the public about this gap. If I can try and bring more education to the public about this surgery and its impact on the recipient, maybe I can help put pressure on the hospital and government to secure more funding.

Hearing is such a fundamental sense that most of us use everyday without a second thought. I am 35 years old, I cannot use the phone. I have anxiety about going out to get groceries worried that I won’t be able to hear what the cashier or other patrons are saying to me, I can’t use a drive-thru anymore and have anxiety about going inside restaurants as well.

So, what do I do? I isolate myself in my home. I limit my out-of-home activities.

I have been waiting for this surgery for three months now. Knowing the way that I feel right now, I don’t know how I am mentally going to make the two-year wait. I have a family that needs me, children ages seven and nine, and a husband. They need a mother and wife who isn’t going to close herself off.

Hearing loss is such a hidden disability. There is so little public understanding about who it affects and how it affects the person with the loss. There needs to be more public education. I am willing to help in that crusade and I know that Dr. Lea is willing and happy to back me as well.

I am happy to send you a copy of the letter that I sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Honourable Christy Clark and the Health Minister. My concerns are currently with the Providence Health Quality Office. I have not received a formal response from them yet. They have had my concern since Aug. 10, 2016.

Please run my story, help me bring awareness to hearing loss and the cochlear implant surgery to the public. Help me try and bring more funding to St. Paul’s cochelar implant program to help the many others waiting for this surgery get their lives back — get them living again.

Jordona Hubber, West Kelowna

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