Two new clinics with maximum sterilization procedures will handle thousands of specialized bladder tests needed every year by Island patients.
Urologists stopped performing cystoscopies — which are used to follow up on bladder cancer or treat and diagnose other urinary tract ailments — in their offices in October, after the Health Ministry adopted rigorous new federal regulations on sterilization.
Since then, 42 people have travelled to the mainland for urgent tests, while VIHA handled 1,350 cystoscopy procedures in Island operating rooms.
“We recognize that this was an inconvenience to patients who got caught up in this, and we’re happy to have it back on track,” said Suzanne Germain, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
A new out-patient cystoscopy clinic will officially open Feb. 18 at the Royal Jubilee Hospital and is expected to be up to full speed by March.
Another clinic will open within a few weeks at Nanaimo General Hospital. The Comox and Port Alberni hospitals will get service upgrades.
“It was an absolutely pressing need” and — despite criticism that VIHA was dragging its feet — it was given high priority, Germain said.
“It’s brand new, it’s going to meet clinical needs, it’s going to provide safe, timely and appropriate access to this medical procedure, and that was a priority for us,” she said.
The Royal Jubilee clinic will operate four days a week, while the Nanaimo clinic will be open three days a week.
The clinics required a combined $785,000 in capital costs, and will cost about the same to operate annually — an amount that came from existing budgets, Germain said.
Victoria urologist Peter Pommerville is happy with the new clinic, but said it’s long overdue considering urologists began office testing in 1989. Other parts of B.C. have specialized clinics.
“It’s been a struggle for the hospital to find adequate resources to get the clinic up and running,” he said Friday.
“Once it gets going, it’s going to service the patients very well. We’ll definitely keep it busy … With the population expanding, the pressure on the clinic is going to be significant, I think.”
All told, 12,000 cystoscopies are performed annually on the Island, with some patients having several. About 4,400 take place in hospitals due to the need for anesthetic or X-rays. Urologists performed about 7,600 in their offices.
The stricter rules are meant to further reduce the risk of infection from improperly sterilized cystoscopes.
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