A first for Interior Health

Kelowna General Hospital performs open heart surgery for first time

East Kootenay patients will have another option for care after Kelowna General Hospital performed its first ever open heart surgery.

The patient, Luke Brockholm of Penticton, is doing well after the procedure performed by surgeon Dr. Guy Fradet two weeks ago.

Brockholm will be just the beginning – the hospital hopes to perform as many as 600 open heart surgeries a year now that the infrastructure is in place.

“The start of cardiac surgeries is great news for patients such as Luke Brockholm and their families,” said B.C. health minister Margaret MacDiarmid, who traveled to Kelowna last week to celebrate the milestone. “Cardiac patients needing surgery are now able to get care closer to home, without having to travel to the Lower Mainland, which is very welcome news.”

Before Kelowna General began performing the surgery, patients would have to travel to the Lower Mainland. Only three hospitals in B.C. offered the procedure, including Royal Columbian Hospital (New Westminster), Royal Jubilee Hospital (Victoria), St. Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver) and Vancouver General Hospital (Vancouver).

“Having a cardiac surgery program in Interior Health means improved access to services for diagnosing and treating heart disease,” said Fradet. “It also decreases the burden of travelling great distances, away from family and other supports, to receive care. This will improve the co-ordination of patient- and family-centred care within the Southern Interior.”

For now the surgeries are taking place in two renovated operating rooms with the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre is constructed. It is set to open in mid-2015.

In 2009, Kelowna General became the first hospital outside of the Lower Mainland to perform angioplasties and has since performed the procedure 3,000 times.

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