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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hospital cuts are wrong-headed

Dear editor,

Kudos to the doctors and nurses who have had the courage to speak out about the proposed cutbacks in the OR department at KBRH in Trail. I would like to throw in my two bits' worth and make it personal.

I injured myself last June and had an appointment with a specialist in September; at that time, I was told I would require surgery, and that this specific surgery - shoulder - had a wait list of at least one year. I go into  this surgery knowing that things may or may not improve substantially afterwards, but I have to take that chance and hope that I will come out of it with at least some improvement in order to get back to some of the activities I love.

This may not sound like a big deal to those who consider this type of surgery "elective", but until you have suffered a shoulder injury of this magnitude, you have no idea of the unmanageable pain that can result from  the simplest tasks. Lifting, carrying, ANY overhead activity, getting dressed,  bathroom duties (even getting out of a bathtub), walking any distance (I have to keep my "worst" arm in a sling to avoid the swinging motion), travel by car or plane, trying to hold a dog on a leash, using a camera, peeling vegetables at the kitchen counter, folding laundry, grocery shopping, sitting at a table to do any type of activity or trying to hold a newborn baby becomes a challenge. The outcome from playing a game of cards is horrendous! Many nights have been spent sleeping in a recliner chair because night pain with this type of shoulder injury can be unbearable.

In the meantime, I overused my other ("good") arm and shoulder and  subsequently took a fall, landing on that ("good") shoulder. After imaging done last week, it would appear that I have almost the same injury on my other side as well. Upon speaking with the radiologist, it would appear that if that shoulder also requires surgery, the wait time is now two years.

Because of other health issues, I must remain active...do you know how many activities require the use of your arms and shoulders? Going to the gym, pilates,
yoga, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (with poles) and riding a bike are just a few, and I have had to give them up.

What happens if the OR cutbacks go ahead? This type of shoulder surgery will be put on the back burner again and again because it is "elective" and because there will be other surgeries deemed more urgent. In the meantime, the physlcal and mental well-being of the patient deteriorates, and the patient requires other services to manage those new symptoms. Cost effective? I think not.

I could go to a private clinic in Vancouver and have my surgery done within
a few weeks - at great expense, of course. This would mean travel to Vancouver
for a consult, travel to Vancouver for the surgery itself, and travel back to Vancouver, yet again, for follow-up, each time handing over a payment for
services rendered. The added pain that would result from the travel itself is unthinkable. The question I have is, 'why should I have to do that?'. We have brilliant doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses right here in our own back
yard, and we will lose these same professionals as their hours and services are cut again and again as the IHA shows their lack of appreciation for them and their patients.

I appeal to the IHA to at least protect the services we currently have. How can you tout your status as a regional hospital when patients are forced to travel to other
regions for services they have the right to receive here?

Tracy Mercer
Rossland, B.C.