Urology services back in 100 Mile House

New urology outreach services launched for local hospital

100 Mile House is receiving urology services again thanks to a group of local residents and politicians being persistent in their advocacy for patients in the South Cariboo.

Interior Health (IH) announced the return of the service on Oct. 15, noting urologists from Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops are travelling to 100 Mile District General Hospital to provide urology services.

Interior Health acknowledged the commitment of urologists from [RIH] and the contributions of the South Cariboo Health Foundation [SCHF] and Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District, allowed IH to launch an innovative outreach program that will allow patients of the Cariboo region to access urology care closer to home.

However, it was a long, hard-fought battle by the SCHF, which had been offering $230,000 for funding a local urologist, equipment costs and about two years of operation, for close to two years.

The issue came to a head when IH acute services director Peter Du Toit reported on program funding in the community at an April 15 District of 100 Mile House council meeting.

Mayor Mitch Campsall blasted Du Toit for IH “continually putting up barriers” to local health-care needs and added residents are tired of being treated like “second-class citizens.”

Du Toit said IH had looked at this “high-profile” proposal in its 2014/15 financial plans and will “very definitely” review it again for 2015/16 – but there is simply no available operating funds from the ministry for “new programs.”

Campsall snapped back that the program is “not new” and had been in place locally before IH cancelled it.

Eight days later (April 23), Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, who noted she had championed for the return of urology service along with the SCHF, announced IH had approved a urology program for 100 Mile District General Hospital.

Urology is a specialty that involves the treatment of conditions of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

It is estimated that approximately 325 Cariboo patients receive diagnostic cystoscopies at RIH each year. Some of these patients require multiple cystoscopies for conditions, such as ongoing cancer surveillance.

Now, many patients will be able to receive a portion, or even all, of their urological care in 100 Mile House.

This will enable some patients to have a consultation and cystoscopy during one visit, ensuring the delivery of care for Cariboo residents without having to make multiple three- to four-hour trips to Kamloops.

Patients will access this new service through a referral from their family physician.

Three urologists from RIH will share a rotation of travel to 100 Mile House, two to three times per month, for nine months of the year (winter months will generally be excluded due to variable weather conditions).

The primary focus of these trips will be to perform a diagnostic cystoscopy clinic. They will also perform minor surgical procedures such as vasectomies and circumcisions, and will administer hormone therapy for patients with prostate cancer.

Patients whose consultation reveals a need for a cystoscopy may be able to have the procedure performed the same day in 100 Mile House. However, most patients requiring consultation and follow-up visits will still need to travel to Kamloops, and most minor and all major surgeries will still be performed at RIH.

This new outreach service represents an investment of approximately $342,400, which includes a $300,000 contribution shared between the South Cariboo Health Foundation (60 per cent) and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (40 per cent) for the equipment that will support this service locally.

This also includes an ongoing annual commitment of $42,400 by IH.