Orthopedic waitlists in BC are long and any delays in providing hip and knee surgery can be quite devastating. So, when a rock-slide closed Hwy 97 between Penticton and Kelowna for about a month last February, Orthopedic surgeon, Dr Tim Bell went above and beyond to ensure that his patients got to the hospital in time and had their surgeries without any delays.
Many operations for communities like Penticton, Trail, Vernon and Kamloops take place in Kelowna, which means both patients and surgeons generally travel there for operations. Hence, the highway closure meant that Dr Bell’s surgeries were in danger of being cancelled.
That’s when Dr Bell took action for his 15 patients with scheduled surgeries. He found a logging road (Highway 201) that would get his patients to Kelowna in about 2.5 hours instead of the usual 55 minutes with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
He had to travel this road himself three times during that month-long period, and in one of those trips acted as a ‘tour guide’ for one of his patients. The patient was uneasy about travelling this unfamiliar logging road and talked to Dr Bell about delaying the surgery. Instead, Dr Bell said he’d be the lead car and travel with him to Kelowna. Both the travel and the surgery went smoothly.
It helps that Dr Bell is part of the Specialist Services Committee’s Enhancing Access Initiative – it makes him hyper-aware of how delays can negatively impact patient care. For October 2019, Dr Bell anticipates that waitlists in Interior Health will be managed more efficiently when the Enhancing Access Initiative connects all GPs electronically to streamline the referral process. This will give patients quicker access to be seen by their local orthopedic surgeons. Learn more about the Enhancing Access Initiative.