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Doctors and community leaders decry lack of cardiac care in central and northern Vancouver Island

Doctors and community leaders in Nanaimo are demanding provincial action in response to a lack of cardiac care in the growing central and northern regions of Vancouver Island.

“We’re rather like the third world country on the other side of the Malahat here,” says Nanaimo mayor Leonard Krog. “We are not receiving the kind of world class, first class care that you get in the city of Victoria or if you live in the southern part of the island.”

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital serves a population approaching 450,000. The hospital’s medical staff president says that makes the central and northern region the largest community in Canada without a cardiology service and cardiac catheterization lab.

“Access to a [catheterization] lab is the standard of care for heart attacks,” says Dr. David Coupland. “And for a big heart attack, access and opening of the blocked arteries needs to happen within 90 minutes.”

The group is asking the province to help fund a new lab at NRGH, helping patients avoid emergency travel south into Victoria.

“The more time that elapses without the patient having the artery opened up, the higher chance of morbidity, mortality and complications,” says NRGH cardiologist Dr. Hesam Keshmiri.

B.C.’s ministry of health didn’t respond to a request for a comment by deadline, but those speaking out Tuesday say a plan has been developed in consultation with Island Health. It’s been submitted to the ministry for consideration.

“We cannot delay any further. Lives are at stake,” says Snuneymuxw chief Mike Wyse. Top Stories


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