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The wonder of hope in health care

As hope has always been part of the holiday season, it’s worth sharing some of the hopes that have been fulfilled this year through the efforts of dedicated employees and physicians serving across PHSA programs and services.
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​Gains in health care occur because we have hope that through effort and innovation, better treatments, service models, protocols, and even cures, are within our grasp. We hope our research bears fruit, that our continuing investment of time and resources will produce treatments that are faster, less painful or invasive, and which make life longer and better. This year, through the efforts of dedicated employees and physicians serving across PHSA programs and services, and working in partnership with like-minded people at B.C.’s five regional health authorities and the First Nations Health Authority, we are proud to share some of the hopes that have been fulfilled across our province.

Five people next to a Compass Mental Health signOne in seven young people in B.C. experiences a mental illness at some point. High school students are increasingly reporting anxiety and depression. So, B.C. Children’s Hospital created Compass, a telephone resource for communities in the north, the interior and Vancouver Island. Care providers in rural communities can now access Compass teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses. Social workers access expert information, advice, resources and consultation services remotely, including follow-up support in more complex cases. And so, their collective hope for better treatment translated into action for more than 1,000 children and youth across B.C.

Dr. Dedhar BC Cancer.jpgWith the hope of changing the prognosis of pancreatic cancer, B.C. Cancer researchers led a study of the genetic structure of pancreatic tumours. They identified a unique trait in several cases that they’d seen before in other cancer types; it was a trait that was potentially treatable. Looking into the entire genetic composition of the participants and their cancers, researchers were able to find an effective treatment. This sequencing technology helps researchers identify new and personalized treatments for cancers that are difficult to treat. It is a breakthrough in terms of the potential of precision medicine for pancreatic cancer. And while it’s rooted in science, it started with the hope of a better outcome.

lung transplant team.jpgB.C. Transplant and Vancouver Coastal Health’s Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion program is another outcome of what started as hope. The program, which is a partnership with the talented care team at Vancouver General Hospital, uses technology to allow donor lungs to live outside the body for up to 12 hours. A ventilator inflates the lungs and maintains normal respiration during assessment, and lungs that might initially have been rejected for transplant can be reassessed, and even repaired. In 2018, 50 double-lung transplants were performed in B.C. With hope for saving more lives, and with Ex Vivo the pathway to realizing that hope, that number is expected to increase to 60.

Computer screen showing video call between a woman and child, and another womanFrom newborns to youth 18 years of age who are deaf or hard of hearing, Cochlear Implant Services provides specialized care at B.C. Children’s Hospital. Initial programming of a cochlear implant occurs about four weeks after surgery and essentially turns the implant on, allowing the child to hear sound. Follow-up care necessitates travel — at least six times in the first year — to specially trained audiologists at B.C. Children’s.

But with 40 per cent of patients and families residing outside the Lower Mainland, frequent travel to Vancouver can be gruelling. So, grounded in hope for a better method, and driven through their technological innovation, B.C. Children’s audiologists can now program cochlear implants virtually through a computer and conduct the appointment via tele-health video conference with patients in their communities.

Child in wheelchair and carer looking at computer monitorThe other remarkable thing about hope like this is that it spreads, inspiring care teams, patients and families to work together to produce never-imagined, life-changing outcomes in unexpected places. There are now 19 virtual health care sites across B.C. linking local hospitals and regional health authorities with B.C. Children’s Hospital. This provides parents access to more than 40 areas of subspecialty care for their children without the stress, costs and time of a physical journey.

Ucluelet CP Rachelle Cole and Stephen Winpenny - 01 article.jpgB.C.’s paramedics are there during some of the most vulnerable moments on the spectrum of life and health, including those experienced by palliative patients living at home. When faced with needing to be taken by ambulance from their homes to the hospital to address a medical emergency, they, too, had hope for a better outcome. The hope has come from the team at B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), which has developed new guidelines and training for paramedics to assist palliative patients who call 9-1-1 for help. Now, more patients with minor medical emergencies can be treated in the comfort of their homes. For seniors, especially those in rural areas and remote communities, this change borne of hope means peace of mind, fulfilling their wish to be treated at home with dignity and comfort.

Hope abounds in health care and the special people who provide it. Hope for better outcomes — supported by skills, science, research and compassion — produces life-improving and life-saving advances that help us, and those we care about. At this time of year, especially, we can take comfort in that hope, and can all share in its promise and its often wondrous outcome.
BC Cancer; BC Children's Hospital; BC Early Hearing Program; transplant
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