Partnership working well for patients and doctors

Cariboo residents continue to benefit from local urology program

By LeRae Haynes

Free Press

Barb Tymchuk, Acute Health Service Director for the Cariboo, says the urology program put into place at 100 Mile District General Hospital last fall is a real benefit to Cariboo residents and the feedback is very positive.

People are happy with the program close to home. We currently have 21 patients being treated.

The physicians are happy with the program, too, and are glad to come here. They like the state-of-the-art equipment available to them here, the closeness of the staff and the community as a whole.”

After extensive negotiations between Interior Health and the South Cariboo Health Foundation, a urology program was put into place last fall, giving Cariboo residents the opportunity to receive treatment in 100 Mile House, saving them a trip to Kamloops.

Three doctors from Kamloops – Dr. Derek Ottem, Dr. Lee Jonat and Dr. Stephen Faddegon – travel to 100 Mile House to see patients.

The program is a partnership between the South Cariboo Health Foundation (SCHF), Interior Health and the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District, which is part of the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), says past SCHF chair Mary Shennum.

We knew people with urology appointments in Kamloops would appreciate not having to travel down there, and Dr. Ottem mentioned he’d be interested in coming to 100 Mile to provide services.

We decided to come up with the money and pledged $175,000 to this program, and purchased all the equipment with Interior Health providing funds for operation of the program.”

100 Mile resident Gayle Dunsmuir was diagnosed with bladder cancer five years ago. She had surgery in Kamloops and has been on a surveillance program that has been reduced to annual visits.

Instead of driving more than two hours to Kamloops and battling for parking, I walk from my house, through the park, past the falls and to the hospital and back. In two hours, I’m back home.”

Having state-of-the-art equipment is a huge bonus, she adds.

The South Cariboo Health Foundation really went to bat for the community, and I feel good that I was part of it – wrote to the paper and spoke to [Cariboo-Chilcotin] MLA Donna Barnett.

I’m aware that we need to do everything we can do to keep the stats up at our hospital and this really helps. I’m happy and pleased that we have this here.”

Tymchuk says this is not a “one size fits all” service, but those who use it are very appreciative.

It reflects the Ministry [of Health’s] focus on bringing care close to home, and it was built for the Cariboo. Interior Health works very hard to provide the best possible service to all our Cariboo clients.”

Shennum says there was a sense of pride in raising the money.

SCHF has generous donors and lots of community support. We hold events and people know that 100 per cent of the money we raise stays in the community.

We were very excited when there was something new to offer the community with doctors coming here, and are hoping to open the door to other services.”