Lungs – they breathe life into us and are one of the single most essential elements to our survival. They are responsible for a need so inherent we do it without even thinking about it. So what happens when disease strikes these vital organs?
Respirology is a subspecialty of internal medicine that deals with diseases affecting our respiratory system. Currently there are roughly 70 respirologists in BC, though not all work full-time or are clinical physicians – some are researchers. Well over half are located in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, and a vast majority are concentrated in the larger centers of Kelowna and Prince George. As a result, it can be difficult for patients in more remote areas to access services
Some of the most widely known respiratory diseases include lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Currently, COPD is the single biggest disease entity and the number one issue affecting respirology.
Certain initiatives created by the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) have helped address this issue, but says Dr Ian Waters, President of the Society of Respirology, “the next step is to develop a provincial-wide program for COPD care”.
According to Dr Waters, this subspecialty is an area that is “rapidly developing and evolving as people with respiratory diseases are living longer than ever before”. And thanks to funding from the SSC, fee codes were created to help provide respirology services; particularly for patients seen in multidisciplinary clinics around the province.