Written by Raven Nyman
Each November, when darkness falls in 100 Mile House, the night sky lights up, thanks to the South Cariboo Health Foundation’s (SCHF) glowing display: Starry Nights.
The annual holiday light installation serves as the SCHF’s major fundraiser, which enables the foundation to purchase essential equipment for the local hospital.
Last year, proceeds from the event were used to purchase a Wellness Nordic Relax Chair for $16,000, which was donated to Fischer Place/Mill Site Lodge (FPMSL).
In 2019, the SCHF’s Starry Nights project will support the Outreach Cystoscopy Program at the 100 Mile District General Hospital. Specifically, this year’s funds will go towards the purchase of a urology cart and a high-tech cystoscope.
The cystoscope uses technology to detect abnormalities of the bladder and its lining while the medical-grade, sterile surgical cart meets infection standards and houses all the equipment required for cystoscopy procedures. The two pieces of equipment have a combined estimated value of $21,000.
Allison Filewich, the hospital’s manager of Acute Care Services, explained that currently, their urology unit only has a wire utility cart to house equipment: “It’s not contained and sealed, and you can’t close the door.”
The triple-wide enclosed cart will be easier to sanitize, she said, and will provide an ease of access for doctors to quickly obtain the tools they may require during urology procedures.
“It’s sterile, also functional, and may be used in an [operating room] setting, too,” said SCHF public relations and fundraising co-ordinator Brenda Devine. “So it [will be] very useful to have that addition.”
“It’s going to be more accessible for patients,” agreed Dr. Lee Jonat, one of the urologists who visits 100 Mile House from Kamloops each month. “We’re going to be able to service the needs of the community.”
He noted that the cart will make the urology unit more flexible, efficient, and professional. There isn’t much risk associated with cycoscopy, said Jonat, except for infection, so a sterile cart will help to keep things clean and contained.
Three years ago, 100 Mile House didn’t have a urology lab, said SCHF chair, Chris Nickless.
“If someone from Bella Coola, 100 Mile, Quesnel, or wherever had to have urology tests done, they had to go to Kamloops. So the foundation went to battle to at least get the doctors to come [here],” he recalled.
Five years ago, when Nickless could have used those services here for his own health needs, he had to travel to Kamloops.
After sharing their concerns with the district, the SCHF worked with Interior Health to bring urologists in once a week. Three urologists now visit 100 Mile’s hospital three times a month for seven months of the year, from March 1 until Dec. 1.
“They take the winter off, because travelling [from Kamloops to 100 Mile House] is challenging,” said Filewich. “They [see] about 15 to 20 [patients] a week, so that’s 60 a month.”
Divine said that the foundation originally supplied most of the hospital’s urology equipment.
“We’re trying to keep the money local,” Nickless explained of the foundation’s fundraising efforts.
Jonat is impressed with how much the SCHF has been able to help the hospital in 100 Mile House. Both Nickless and Jonat feel that bringing urology services to the community has been a win for everyone.
“In the urology practice, the average age is somewhere in the mid to high late seventies and of course there’s patients a lot older than that, so they struggle with transportation. When we’re able to come up here and see a block of patients, we’re keeping them from either arranging transportation or coming down on their own. It seems to work really well.”
Sterilization is required between each patient’s visit to the urology clinic, so an additional scope will increase the flexibility of services. The hospital chose to prioritize a flexible scope, which can be used on men and women alike.
“Typically, we use the flexible ones on men just because the urethra is longer and it’s curved. In women, the urethra is only 3 centimetres long, so we use a rigid scope. If we have more of each of them, it makes us more flexible,” said Jonat. “If we have too many men on the slate and we don’t have enough flexible scopes, then sometimes they can’t come.”
70 per cent of the urology practice treats male patients, said Jonat, especially in this area.
“They tend to be heavier smokers and that leads to bladder cancer. In a pinch, a flexible [scope] you can actually use on a woman, too, [but] there’s certain situations where we just wouldn’t be able to [help] another man because we just don’t have the scopes to complete it.”
It’s a good idea to replace products before they break down, noted Jonat, since urology services won’t be available if the hospital waits until the equipment is no longer working before replacing things.
“As we build our team and build our capacity, I think we can only move forward by getting more equipment and more scopes,” agreed Filewich.
Jonat has taught the hospital’s nurses about urology and feels the team is well-prepared to provide quality service.
“Convenient healthcare is nice, but unless you’re doing a good service, it’s not a good thing,” he said, noting that the 100 Mile hospital provides high quality, standard-of-practice care. “So patients aren’t getting substandard care and they’re getting to stay in their community, which is kind of the best of both worlds.”
The SCHF has a working wishlist for potential equipment upgrades and collaborates with hospital staff to prioritize the community’s fundraising needs each year.
“We want to encourage doctors to come here,” said Devine. “If they see these programs in place… why wouldn’t [they] want to be a part of this community?”