A Vernon woman claims she was bumped from surgery because she lives in the wrong town.
Mary Obrecht was scheduled for a hip replacement at Kelowna General Hospital Monday, but she learned Wednesday the procedure has been cancelled.
“I was told they can’t operate on a Vernon patient because I would be taking a place away from a Kelowna patient,” said the 58-year-old.
“They are penalizing the surgeon and me because of a 40-kilometre difference and an address.”
Obrecht also believes the cancellation was unnecessary.
“I have found out the operating room is empty then. They didn’t fill that spot,” said Obrecht, who works for a local physician.
The surgery had been booked in April and plans had been made for her office manager’s position to be covered while she was recovering.
“It’s wrong. I was accepted for surgery,” she said. “You just don’t do that (cancel) a few days before the surgery.”
Surgery has now been scheduled for Vernon Jubilee Hospital Sept. 7 and it can’t come soon enough as Obrecht seeks relief from the pain.
“You don’t sleep, you can’t walk a block. It’s excruciating.”
Interior Health Authority officials deny Obrecht was discriminated against based on her home community.
“We operate on patients from across the health authority,” said Sharon Cook, KGH director of health services.
IHA says the situation arose because Obrecht’s Vernon-based surgeon was filling in for a colleague in Kelowna and decided to book some cases there, which impacted KGH’s wait list.
“There are others who have been waiting much longer,” said Cook of the demand for orthopedic surgery. “It’s only fair that patients on the wait list the longest be given an opportunity first.”
Cook says the authority has been sensitive towards Obrecht’s needs.
“We really apologize for the inconvenience. I’m happy she’s been rescheduled so quickly.”
Despite IHA’s arguments, Obrecht insists she was treated unfairly.
“IHA is all under one umbrella and Vernon does lots with Kelowna patients,” she said.