Kelowna General Hospital campaigns for closer to home treatments for heart disorders

‘Here at KGH’ will complete the hospitals available resources for advanced heart rhythm services

“Right here at KGH.”

Its not what Okanagan patients often hear when looking for advanced treatments for a numerous amount of heart rhythm conditions. Usually, they’re directed to hospitals in the Lower Mainland.

But now, if the $7 million campaign put in place by the KGH Foundation is successful, more people will hear that phrase and will be able to access electrophysiology at the hospital.

“The electrophysiology services are the last component in the cardiac program here at KGH,” said KGH Foundation CEO Doug Rankmore during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“The desire to have a full service cardiac program here probably started in the 1980s. The $7 million campaign will outfit the electrophysiology lab, and completing the cardiac program is a real milestone for KGH.”

Currently, only basic cardiac rhythm services, such as medications and procedures to treat faster heart rhythms, pacemakers to treat slower heart rhythms and an atrial fibrillation clinic are available to KGH patients.

Patients who require advanced treatments, such as electrophysiology, must travel to Victoria or Vancouver to get the treatment they need, and on days where snow closes highways, that proves difficult.

Cardiac rhythm disorders, also know as arrhythmia, are projected to be the leading cause of death in Canada by 2020, according to the Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada.

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“At the cardiac program we’ve done a lot of work over the years trying to bring advanced services to the people here in Kelowna, and we’re trying to fill in that last remaining gap,” said Dr. Frank Halperin, cardiology medical director. “Before, a patient would wait for weeks, now we’ll be able to provide the services right here locally. It will happen faster, it will happen quicker, and it will be easier for the family, and it will be closer to home, so it will really be a win-win for everybody.”

As a regional hospital, KGH serves one million residents from across B.C.’s interior. According to the hospital, the new lab could provide access to life-saving therapies to over 450 hearth rhythm patients a year, and will directly help local patients who could wait up to eight weeks for transfers to the other hospitals.

“The community has been unbelievably supportive to the cardiac services (at KGH) over the years, they’ve helped build the buildings. It’s a hardship for people, and having these services close to home will make a world of difference,” said Halperin.

The new electrophyisology treatment labs are projected for a April 2019 beginning.

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