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

Highland students bring a classic Comox Christmas display back to life

The updated characters are set for display on Friday, Nov. 29.

Canadian Forces member charged with possessing magic mushrooms in Comox

Master Cpl. Joshua Alexander, with the 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, facing two drug-related charges

Valley mother encourages food literacy and mindfulness with placemats

The Mindful Meals placemats help kids to slow down and pay attention to the food they eat.

Victim of downtown Courtenay assault dies from injuries

RCMP confirm file is now a homicide investigation

North Island College’s annual 3-Hour Fiction Contest returns

Two competitions; one for adults, one for U-18 writers

PHOTOS: NHL honours B.C. grandma’s battle against cancer in special match

Shea Theodore’s grandmother Kay Darlington dropped the puck at a special ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ game

EDITORIAL: Ad lacked attention to detail

If you don’t know by now about the unfortunate typo in an… Continue reading

University of Victoria threatens any athletes who speak about rowing coach probe

Barney Williams has been accused of harassment and abuse

B.C.’s largest catholic archdiocese names 9 clergymen in sex abuse report; probes ongoing

Vancouver Archdioces presides over 443,000 parishoners in B.C.

Routine pathology tests still conducted locally: Island Health

A citizens group is requesting Island Health to reinstate clinical pathology testing,… Continue reading

Eagles congregate around Salish Sea for one last feast before period of famine

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society preparing to receive birds in need of care

Comox Fire Rescue donates defibrillator to St. George’s United Church

Comox fighters have donated an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to St. George’s… Continue reading

Smudging in B.C. classroom did not affect Christian family’s faith, says school district lawyer

Lawyers make closing arguments in a Port Alberni case about the Indigenous cultural practice

Most B.C. residents, including those hit by 2018 storms, not prepared for outages: report

Create an emergency kit, BC Hydro says, and report all outages or downed lines

Most Read