Docs call for eye care at expanded Kelowna hospital

With the recent opening of the Kelowna General Hospital extension, it seems quite extraordinary that a retinal service is not offered.

To the editor:

With the recent opening of our new multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art, tertiary care, UBC-affiliated teaching Kelowna General Hospital, it seems quite extraordinary that a retinal service is not offered to the residents of this community.

The general public’s concern and bewilderment at the lack of such a service has been well documented in recent letters to the editor and we do not feel it is necessary to repeat the cogent and compelling arguments already listed by these individuals.

As local physicians we feel it is important to show our strongest support for the early establishment of a retinal program in Kelowna. We feel that whatever the reasons given by IHA there is simply no real justification to withhold such a service.The only explanation offered seems to be one of finances—too much money required for too few patients.

Could IHA confirm how many patients in the South Okanagan do, in fact, require specialist retinal care and how many are actually transferred to Vancouver rather than to Kamloops.

Comments by senior medical director Dr M. Murray in local media seem to confirm that IHA’s major concern is that the cost/benefit ratio is unfavourable. (That means financial cost exceeds patient benefit.) That may be so from a bureaucrat’s perspective, but perhaps he would feel differently if he or a loved one had a detached retina that could only be dealt with by travel to either Kamloops or Vancouver.

KGH will have a retinal program eventually. We feel it must be sooner rather than later. We are certain that with the political will, the obstacles preventing a retinal service in Kelowna could be overcome.

As family physicians whose first priority is our patients’ welfare, we urge IHA to prioritize the establishment of a retinal program in Kelowna.

 

Andrew Farquhar MD

Mike Banwell MD

Jan Fisher MD

Martin Jackson MD

Alan Hignell MD

William Mackle MD

Mike Koss MD

James Ketch MD