Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And in that eye is the delivery of ophthalmology services in the Kootenay Boundary region, with the current eye doctor in Trail having delivered a salvo to the health district on the under performing state of surgical equipment at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).
Citing Nelson as having a microscope that met the standards he was looking for, in May Dr. Rene-Louis Morency moved eye surgeries out of KBRH to Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital.
Up until that time eye surgeries had been performed at both sites.
“Definitely this came to a crisis with the new ophthalmologist who has been here as a year-locum … and with his training he has asked for a number of items that did not fall within our normal process of equipment,” said Ingrid Hampf, acute care area director for Kootenay Boundary.
Although Interior Health Authority officials reviewed the impact of the request, bumping the request to the top of the list at this point would impact to other services, she noted.
The ball park cost of the equipment of the entire request would be almost $400,000, said Hampf, being drawn out of the capital budget for equipment under $100,000. However, that $1 million budget is shared across the entire region of Kootenay Boundary and has to provide all equipment to all programs.
This isn’t just an administrative issue, Hampf explained, but a service issue.
“The complexity of this is ophthalmology is just one piece, and whatever happens affects all of the other surgical programs,” Hampf explained.
“It’s really looking at the full service of surgery that we offer in Kootenay Boundary. That’s why we are engaging our physicians on a solution that is more than just ophthalmology.”
Since that time IHA officials met in early November with physician representatives and all surgical disciplines to look at a sustainable surgical model for the entire area.
Hampf said the IHA presented the physicians with some options on the delivery of services in the region.
“We certainly want to look at the ophthalmology service and we have been since May with the fact that a number of pieces of equipment need to upgraded within the region, both at Trail and at Nelson,” she said.
The doctors have chosen to take until the end of the month to review the entire program before they meet again with the IHA officials.
As well, a final decision hasn’t been made if the IHA will consolidate cataract surgeries to one site in Kootenay Boundary, or remain with a two-site model as has been done in the past.
The only aspect of ophthalmology being compromised is cataract surgery.
Currently, people across the region still have access to cataract surgery in Nelson.
There are around 600 surgeries annually performed in the area.