Viacheslav Iacobchuk |

Viacheslav Iacobchuk |

Routine pathology tests still conducted locally: Island Health

A citizens group is requesting Island Health to reinstate clinical pathology testing, and to hire a third general pathologist at the Campbell River Hospital.

The group — Citizens For Quality Health Care — has collected more than 2,500 signatures on a petition, which North Island MLA Claire Trevena has presented at the B.C. Legislature.

The petition also calls for ‘an independent investigation into the apparent conflict of interest between VIHA (Island Health) and VICPCC (Vancouver Island Clinical Pathology Consulting Corporation).’

READ: Petition calls for…

“They were able to negotiate a contract with the health authority to get all the clinical pathology analysis for the entire Island,” said Barb Biley, the Comox Valley representative of Citizens For Quality Health Care. “So instead of the work being done by general pathologists in local hospitals, everything is shipped off to Victoria. So you have an immediate increase in turnaround time by virtue of the fact that you’re not testing in the Campbell River hospital. You’re sending to Victoria, and not sending every five minutes, but once or twice a day.”

If a local doctor has a question for a pathologist, or if a lab tech needs to consult with a pathologist, Biley said they no longer have a person on site with whom they can consult. They now have to contact someone in Victoria.

“And sometimes when they phone Victoria, they’re told they should send an email. It breaks the continuity and the collaboration that’s required between staff.”

According to Biley, Island Health says patients are better served because tests are analyzed by specialists, not general pathologists.

“This is not true,” she said. “All the routine testing, that is the bulk of the work of a community hospital like ours, is better done by a general pathologist who has a broad range of knowledge.”

Island Health executive medical director Dr. David Robertson said routine testing continues to be conducted at local hospitals.

“That has not changed at all,” he said. “What has changed is the process of interpretation by a pathologist. Some tests we do in small numbers and they get concentrated, some tests we send to Vancouver, very few. All the urgent ones are still being done locally.”

Island Health says it reviewed turnaround times for clinical pathology results, comparing data from when it was handled by Campbell River pathologists (prior to April 2019) and after moving to interpretation by the VICPCC. Results showed turnaround times to be the same or better. For the most commonly performed test, times are about 12 hours faster.

Robertson notes the machines are run by technologists, not the pathologists.

“The test itself is still done locally. We have moved towards a process, progressively, of this being done by people who are more and more highly trained and qualified in that field.”

This trend has been happening for decades, Robertson added.

“This is a slow, progressive move away from general pathology. On Vancouver Island, we have pursued that, because we believe that is the way laboratory services are moving…For those general pathologists, the scope of the work they do has decreased with this move of interpretation down to the south Island. We have not ruled out, at all, bringing some of that work back or having it done in GO1 (North Island).”

As for the conflict of interest, Robertson said the head of the lab, at the time when Island Health developed a contract with VICPCC, had been a clinical pathologist.

“Within Island Health, we recognize when we negotiate any contracts with any group, the leadership within that specialty is necessarily going to be someone who will be affected by the contract that we negotiate. We are confident, in recognizing that, that we ensure that conflict never becomes real. That particular potential conflict has been investigated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and they expressed no concern about it.”

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard said the aforementioned five-year contract is up for review in March.

“It’s going to be reviewed, because the intention is that the best quality of health care services that can be provided to North Island are actually being delivered,” she said. “I’m hopeful that the people that are concerned about it have raised it. Therefore, I expect the review will be able to answer people’s concerns.”

Citizens For Quality Health Care is planning a town hall meeting in the new year in Campbell River to ‘further inform and plan.’

“There may well be something in the Comox Valley as well,” Biley said.

“People are not as well informed in the Comox Valley, because it hasn’t happened here yet. So now’s the time to stop it from going any further.”

The Courtenay hospital has three clinical pathologists.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The award-winning design honouring Cumberland Fire Rescue has been one of the ways the Cumberland Events Society has marked its usual May long weekend celebrations. It is also crowning a new May Queen this year. Photo supplied
Cumberland to crown new May Queen — finally

May long weekend organizers also honour fire department’s history

The CF Snowbirds in action. (Erin Haluschak photo)
Homecoming for B.C.-raised Snowbirds pilot training in the province

Capt. Arpit Mahajan flies Snowbird 2 in his first year as a solo pilot with the team

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is accepting homeownership applications for its next build. Photo supplied
Habitat for Humanity prepares for next build in Courtenay

A forever home for some, a step forward for others

The development permit application for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave has now been approved by council. Record file photo
Cumberland approves secondary home permit second time around

Mayor Leslie Baird said the applicant’s additional drawings provided more info for her

This house at 1514 Trumpeter Cres. is currently for sale, with a disclaimer that the property was used for a cannabis grow operation in the past. Photo by Record staff
Drug trafficking at Courtenay residence nets over $250K forfeiture

Ruling comes from a search warrant executed in 2016 on Trumpeter Crescent home

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)

Most Read