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
[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Abbotsford dietitian releases book about ‘feeding the brain’

Rika Mansingh addresses mind-body connection

Here’s Abbotsford’s top stories from the last week

An 11-year-old’s sketch of a B&E suspect, The News challenges a publication ban and more from the last week

Abbotsford piano teacher earns national recognition

Jean Ritter was recently named a teacher of distinction by the Royal Conservatory of Music

Communitas prepares for annual Christmas Day dinner

Abbotsford organization accepts donations for prizes and gifts

Two choirs host Christmas concert in Abbotsford

Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir and Valley Festival Singers perform Dec. 10

VIDEO: Highway overpass protest against United Nations ‘compact’ on immigration

Demonstrators say Canada will have less control over who is allowed in the country

BCHL players help Team Canada in shootout win over U.S.

Massimo Rizzo scores the shootout winner at World Junior A Challenge

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

Top EU court rules UK can change mind over Brexit

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, triggering a two-year exit process

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Earthquake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt off the coast of Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Most Read