Cardiac program a success

A significant milestone has been achieved within the Interior Health cardiac surgery program.

A significant milestone has been achieved within the Interior Health cardiac surgery program.

This month, the program marks its one year anniversary.

“Going through heart surgery is difficult enough without having the support of family and friends close by,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

“The availability of cardiac surgery in Kelowna has been a great benefit for patients from throughout the Interior, now able to receive expert care without having to travel far.”

The program’s first open heart surgery occurred on Dec. 3, 2012. Since then, more than 500 surgeries have been performed on patients from every corner of the interior.

Dr. Calvin Wan, one of the program’s three surgeons, performed the 500th surgery on Nov. 25.

It was an aortic valve replacement andcoronary artery bypass surgery.

Statistics released by Interior Health show, from December 2012 to November 2013, 57 open heart surgical patients were from Vernon, 24 were from Salmon Arm, seven came from Armstrong -Spallumcheen, seven from Enderby, and 138 patients from Kelowna and Lake Country.

“These surgical services, in addition to the education and health promotion work occurring as part of this program, are among the finest in the province,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.

“The first year of this program has seen outstanding results and clinical outcomes.”

Surgeries are currently taking place in two renovated operating rooms at Kelowna General Hospital while the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre (IHSC) building is under construction. The Interior Heart and Surgical Centre building will be the permanent home for this program.

The building is planned to open in mid-2015.

The IHSC building will be the province’s fifth cardiac critical care centre.

Cardiac surgery is performed at four other hospitals: Royal Columbian, Royal Jubilee, St. Paul’s and Vancouver General.

“Every year, 12,000 surgeries in 12 different specialties, including open heart surgery, will change and save lives of patients receiving care at the centre,” said Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

“It’s important to realize this is not a Kelowna, or even an Okanagan, program,” said IH chairperson Norman Embree.

“In the last year, 60 patients from the Kootenay region received cardiac surgery here in the interior instead of having to travel to Vancouver. Sixty have come from Kamloops alone, and another 24 from communities in the Cariboo. The cardiac surgery program truly is a regional service.”

For more information about the centre, visit