Maureen Kennah-Hafstein plans to continue her fight to get increased funding from the B.C. Government for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

B.C. health minister offers no remedy for surgical wait time

Parkinson’s patient continues quest for province to fund more procedures

It appears Maureen Hafstein and other Parkinson’s patients like her will continue to wait on one of the longest lists in the country for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery, despite the fact that the waiting may make them miss their chance at the procedure altogether.

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo said after repeatedly being told Health Minister Adrian Dix would get back to him last week, he informed the Observer he had heard from Dix on Monday morning.

“He was careful in his comments, saying that the health authorities are allocated base funding for surgeries and they are in the best position to make the determination about where there are the greatest pressures and the greatest needs,” said Kyllo.

Kyllo says the argument that health-care decisions should not be coming from government is valid, but he notes there have been a number of cases where governments have become involved in such decisions.

He points to the situation where the government is providing targeted health-care funding specifically for performing hip and knee replacement surgeries and reducing wait times.

“He reluctantly agreed there was a decision made to target those wait times,” Kyllo said. “It’s kind of like picking winners and losers here.”

Dix’s office did not respond to the Observer’s request for an interview.

Meanwhile Hafstein says she is not giving up in her quest to bring attention to the wait list issue for Parkinson’s patients throughout B.C.

“To think that a province of our size has only one surgeon… The people of B.C. deserve better from our medical system. I will pursue the option of going out of province for surgery if I have to,” Hafstein said by text, as her Parkinson’s impairs her ability to speak.

Related link: Salmon Arm woman fights for a life-changing surgery

Dix’s office gave an email address for the chief of surgery at Vancouver General to Kyllo to give to Hafstein and suggested she take her case to him. But Hafstein isn’t sure this would change anything and says solving her own issue won’t help the other patients still waiting on the list.

“I want to be clear that I am not wanting to jump ahead of anyone in line. I am asking for increased funding so that everyone will benefit,” she said.

Hafstein plans to continue her letter-writing campaign and is still going to try and arrange a face-to-face meeting with Dix to discuss the situation.

Kyllo says the DBS surgery in B.C. is funded at a cost of approximately $1 million a year.

Only one doctor in B.C., Dr. Christopher Honey, is currently performing the procedure at either Vancouver General or UBC. This compares to Alberta, which has two surgeons performing DBS, Quebec has four, Manitoba has two and Saskatchewan has two. The Canadian average for DBS surgery is one surgeon for every two million people. In B.C. the rate is one surgeon for 4.5 million.

Parkinson’s Disease is a complex degenerative brain disorder that affects a person’s ability to move. While DBS is not a cure, it can provide a significant impact on the patient’s health and quality of life — often helping to slow the progression of the disease for many years. For the DBS surgery to have benefits, it must be done within a certain window of time. If the patient’s symptoms become too severe, the operation no longer has a good chance of success and those patients become no longer eligible for the procedure.

Related Link: In this corner, hope

Currently, Honey says most of his patients are waiting two years and he notes the B.C. standard target for surgical wait time is supposed to be 26 weeks.

Honey has trained another surgeon to perform DBS surgery, but without funding from the government for this surgeon and for equipping another operating room, no additional DBS procedures can be scheduled.

Honey says lobbying for additional funding has been an education in the political system.

“My patients, you see, have very complex medical needs and many of them are simply too ill to advocate for themselves. They are quiet and suffer mostly in silence… There’s only about 70 to 80 people I see each year. Any politician can afford to lose 70 to 80 votes.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo Gem and Mineral Show rocking all weekend

Event being held Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, at the Legion Branch 256

Nanaimo-Ladysmith students put their robots to the test in competition

High school students problem-solved at VEX robotics tournament this week

Bus loop will now remain in downtown Nanaimo until the end of the year

Shelters installed at temporary Port Drive/Front Street transit exchange

Nanaimo man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

James Farkas breaks hip in fall from beach cliff, returns months later to save eagle on same beach

Nanaimo athletes win Island track and field championships

Every Nanaimo high school was represented at last week’s event

Nanaimo kindergarten teacher receives Prime Minister’s award

Departure Bay Eco-School’s Liz McCaw use of experiential learning methods earns her accolade

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Beefs & Bouquets, May 23

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Most Read