WHEN longtime Terrace-based urologist Dr. Francis Osei-Tutu announced he was retiring after more than 37 years of practice in the northwest, the Northern Health Authority came to the Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation with a proposition: would it contribute to the purchase of new equipment for the specialty?
And that set in motion the foundation’s straight forward evaluation of the proposition – if you want specialists, you need to provide the equipment to first attract and then to retain them.
“Absolutely,” says foundation chair Ron Bartlett in explaining the rationale the foundation applied to the health authority’s request. “We consider ways to improve the health of the folks in the region.”
“The challenge was that Dr. Osei-Tutu’s equipment was just too old. You just couldn’t recruit a replacement with it,” said Bartlett.
The result was a commitment by the foundation to solicit $100,000 in donations from individuals, companies and organizations in support of the purchase by the Northern Health Authority of new urology equipment.
And what that meant, said Bartlett, is that health care authorities could then physically place a list of equipment in front of potential replacements and ask them to choose what they needed.
The collaboration between the foundation and the Northern Health Authority was successful with urologist Dr. Paul Gustafson deciding to move from the Lower Mainland to Terrace where he is now firmly established.
Underpinning the foundation’s decision to collaborate with Northern Health was that the new equipment means northwestern residents who might otherwise have to travel to Prince George or to Vancouver for treatment can now stay closer to home, said Bartlett.
“We just think that’s so crucial, not having to travel,” he said.
In specifics, the new urology equipment means being able to deal with kidney stones and cancers here, explained Gustafson.
“Diagnosis and treatment is much improved,” he said.
Ultra-high tech scopes offer far less intrusive means of providing high quality images, Gustafson said.
“The laser can pass through the scope and cut out cancer. And it can also handle kidney stones,” he added of one feature of the new equipment.
THE Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation’s goal of receiving donations to gather up $100,000 toward the purchase of a new urology suite at Mills Memorial Hospital has come ever so closer thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Vanderhoof and Districts Co-op. From the left, foundation secretary-treasurer Cynthia Bohn, foundation director Jacques Pelletier, Nirmal Parmar who represents the Terrace area on the Co-op board, Co-op Terrace branch manager Addie Ippel, foundation vice chair Dianne Rooker, foundation director Dr. Geoff Appleton, Co-op general manager Allan Bieganski, urologist Dr. Paul Gustafson, foundation director Gayle Appleton and Co-op board of director president Bud Pye.
One of the contributors is the Vanderhoof and Districts Co-op which two weeks ago presented the Lee foundation with a $10,000 cheque.Since making its urology commitment, the Lee hospital foundation is nearing the $70,000 mark toward its $100,000 goal.
It came from the co-op’s annual $100,000 community grant program introduced just this year.
The prospect of an increased level of medical care helped the co-op decide the urology equipment purchase project should be one of the first to be supported through the new community grant program, says Nirmal Parmar, who represents the area on the co-op board.
“Dr. Gustafson is the only urologist in this area. Otherwise you go to Prince George where there are two of them,” said Parmar of the importance of having new equipment for specialists.
The co-op’s donation of $10,000 was one of 11 it made this year under the auspices of its grant program which extends within the co-op coverage area stretching from Haida Gwaii to Valemount.
“What this donation provides is a regional benefit applying to our trading area,” said Parmar.
Also donating $10,000 was Branch 13 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Terrace and in this circumstance its members looked at the benefits improved urology services here would provide to veterans and their families.
“With our older veterans and their families, if it means not having to travel to Prince George and Vancouver, that’s what our members would consider,” said Branch 13 president Peter Crompton.
But the benefit then extends beyond veterans and families because the donation becomes part of the Lee foundation’s overall goal to raise money for new urology equipment, he added.
“With donations like this, ones that come from our poppy fund, we also need permission from our command,” said Crompton in referring to the Royal Canadian Legion’s provincial office located in Surrey.
“We either sent an email or a fax and within three days our treasurer came back and said it’s a go,” Crompton added of the urology donation.
The Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation has been in existence for more than 25 years.