The Good News Bears’ spin

For the last decade, good news about health care locally has been scarce.

For the last decade, good news about health care locally has been scarce.

Recently, Dr. Brian Goldman, celebrated Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital as having “top notch maternal care for such a small community.” Goldman’s evaluation went across Canada on CBC’s White Coat, Black Art.

Goldman’s visit to Nelson followed an announcement this summer about a long-awaited enhanced eye care program. Also, patients soon will have CT scanner access plus a modernized emergency room at KLH.

Locals will no longer travel to retinal specialists in Cranbrook or Kelowna, or spend countless hours driving to Trail to lie briefly in a CT scanner — at least during daytime hours.

Liberal Health Minister Mike de Jong pronounced: “Improving access to treatment is excellent news for residents in the Kootenay Boundary. Our government is committed to providing access to the greatest range of health services possible in the Kootenays.”

Meanwhile Norman Embree, Interior Health Authority board chair, commented: “I’m pleased we are bringing specialists to Kootenay Boundary.”

IHA’s director of diagnostic imaging, Thalia Vesterback, was more specific: “This is about trying to bring care closer to home. We are trying to reduce trips people have to take to Trail by offering them services closer to where they live.”

Positive. Reassuring.

Conveniently, each Good News Bear’s focus ignores one elephant: residential and emergency surgery. Recognized universally as best practice in medicine, surgeons both lead and assist medical teams — being a vital component in emergency care for a community of Nelson’s size.

We have a double standard of care. On the one hand, when applied to diagnostics, maternal or eye care, access is considered important. On the other hand, the essential service of general and emergency surgery, the immediacy for these services is omitted.

Truly, these bears are whistling past the graveyard.

Access is commended as a priority. So why wouldn’t the same standard of access be applied equally to patients requiring general surgery? Moreover, conveniently disregarded in the spin, is the surgeon’s important role in emergencies during the “golden hour.” What about the consequences of not having an emergency backup surgeon in maternity cases? Ignored too, are hundreds of trips people make in seeing general surgeons for consultations and surgery in Trail.

Dr. Goldman says in his review of maternal care in Nelson: The watchword is cooperation.

KLH needs to broaden its “watchword of cooperation.” We need to tell Premier Christy Clark, Minister de Jong, and Mr. Embree: general and emergency surgery is necessary in Nelson — identify, establish this essential elephant the Good News Bears forgot.

Glyn Humphries

Nelson