Kootenay Lake Hospital won’t have a resident ophthalmologist when Neville Maytom retires at the end of February. File photo

Nelson’s only ophthalmologist to retire in February

Dr. Neville Maytom says Interior Health has no plans to replace him

Nelson’s only ophthalmologist is about to retire, and the Interior Health Authority has no plans to replace him.

Neville Maytom, who has practised in the West Kootenay for 30 years, said in a letter to patients dated Sept. 27 that he intends to retire at the end of February.

In the letter, which is attached to the end of this story, Maytom writes about his concerns that his position won’t be filled even though someone has expressed interesting in taking over his practice.

“It has been clear to me over the period of my career that there is enough work for three ophthalmologists in the West Kootenay, and many of these patients are from Nelson and communities north of here as far as Nakusp and Meadow Creek.”

Maytom declined to comment further when contacted by the Star.

Ophthalmology is the school of medicine focused on eye disorders and treatment including surgery.

Maytom added in his letter there is also currently no after-hours emergency surgery available at Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital for ophthalmology patients.

A spokesperson for Interior Health said in a statement they are exploring opportunities to have their two ophthalmologists in Trail provide services in Nelson, and that surgical ophthalmology services will still be provided at Kootenay Lake Hospital.

“Two ophthalmologists in Trail are able to see patients from across the Kootenay Boundary and the new ophthalmologist in Trail is accepting referrals,” the statement said.

“There is currently a minimal wait to get in to see an ophthalmologist in the Kootenay Boundary.”

Winlaw resident Kurt Hilger is concerned that could change once Maytom retires.

Hilger has been one of Maytom’s patients for his entire tenure in Nelson, and says the doctor has always been immediately available in an emergency.

“He puts everything aside to see me,” said Hilger.

Hilger has already written to Interior Health expressing his concerns about the lack of an ophthalmology replacement in Nelson. He recalls one year when neither Maytom nor the two ophthalmologists were available for an emergency call.

“The doctors in the emergency room, basically they told me what I already knew but they couldn’t do a thing. They said, ‘Oh, drive to Kelowna.’ Well, yeah, I can barely see. I’m going to drive to Kelowna in the middle of winter over the Paulson?”

Hilger ended up flying to Vancouver for treatment.

“The point is if there are only two ophthalmologists, how many more times is there going to be no ophthalmologist available?”

Maytom’s impending retirement has also caught the attention of new Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, who said in a statement Wednesday that although it is a provincial matter he agrees with Maytom’s concerns.

Related:

LETTER: IHA won’t replace retiring Nelson ophthalmologist



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson joins protests against racism, police brutality

The protest was similar to those being held throughout Canada and the United States

Game on? Nelson sports organizations wait and see

Nelson Baseball Association has already scrapped its season

RCMP: 93% of inspected boats on Kootenay Lake don’t have safety equipment

Weekend inspections found a high number of boats that don’t comply with national regulations

Temporary rail trail detour will allow upgrade to Nelson’s water source

City will be laying a water line between Stanley Street and Mountain Station parking lot

Water quality advisory issued for Nelson

Run-off has created a high level of turbidity in the city’s drinking water

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Most Read