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Letters: Cath Lab needed in Corner Brook

Will the new hospital in Corner Brook have new services on location such as a Cath Lab (catheterization laboratory), to allow patients within Western Health to avail of a relatively safe intervention with tremendous positive outcomes for patient care? As a resident of the Southwest corner, it is paramount to ask such a question with a new regional facility slated to open in 2023.

From what one can understand at present, a procedure known as cardiac catheterization is not available for cardiac care on the West coast. The only unit where this service is available is at the Health Science Complex in St. John’s. Time for a change in direction.

This procedure, taking a relatively short period of time, involves a doctor placing a very small, flexible, hollow tube (called a catheter) into a blood vessel in the groin, arm, or neck. This tube is then threaded through the blood vessel into the aorta and into the heart. Once the catheter is in place, several tests may be done including a critical observation to determine if there are any blockages preventing the flow of blood to the heart. This is a lifesaving intervention corrected in many cases by the opening of the blood vessel using stints.

However, at the moment this procedure (always open to correction) is only available in St. John’s. Such an observation, if this is the case, then begs a second question. Why can’t such a lab be set up at the new hospital in Corner Brook? It certainly cannot be dismissed because of a lack of demand for the procedure.

There are countless stories of families held in limbo at hospitals along the west coast waiting days on end to be transported via ground transport and air ambulance to the Health Science Complex in St. John’s to have this procedure. Wait times appear to be determined by a collaborative provincial effort assessing the level of urgency. Heaven forbid a death occurs while awaiting a procedure.

It does happen.

According to a spokesperson for health in NL, typically there are – on average – four deaths a year while awaiting heart related procedures in St. John’s. During COVID, this outgoing year of uncertainty and cancelled procedures and with wait lists expanding, that number doubled to 8.

Tragic statistic!

Thus, it comes back to the question. Has anyone looked at the possibility of establishing a Cath Lab, if one does not already exist in the planning stages, for the new regional facility in Corner Brook to assist in patient care? Can West coast residents avoid long wait times, the expense of air travel, the expense and anxiety for families needing to be with loved ones in St. John’s, and take the strain of the services currently only available at the Health Science Complex in St. John’s.

Just asking. Consider our personal health care and the lives of love ones in the balance. Call it a late holiday wish.

John Spencer, Channel-Port aux Basques

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