Surgery wait has Okanagan woman feeling in despair

A Kelowna woman calls her wait time for surgery unacceptable

A Kelowna woman says she’s feeling hopeless waiting for surgery to fix a knee injury.

“It is very frustrating,” Kathryn Tosh said, wiping away tears.

Tosh was involved in a skiing accident at Apex Mountain Resort in January of last year. She still has no idea when she will undergo surgery.

“It is day 417 of me dealing with this injury and nothing has happened,” Tosh said.

Tosh says the first six months following the accident was spent seeing several doctors and waiting for an MRI.

“It did confirm that I did tear my ACL and that I have a meniscus injury,” Tosh said. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments that help stabilize a knee joint. About half of ACL injuries are accompanied by damage to the meniscus, cartilage, bone or other ligaments in the knee.

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Once the MRI results were in, Tosh then saw two different surgeons before finally being put on a wait list for surgery in November, 10 months after the accident. It’s now been five months since getting on the list and Tosh still has no surgery date.

“I come home on my lunch hours to cry because I don’t know what else to do because no one seems to be listening to me or taking into account how much time has passed,” Tosh said. “I keep calling surgical bookings very frequently and no one will give me a surgery date. I’ve probably called them 30 to 40 times over the past three to four months.”

The Interior Health Authority’s Medical Director for Surgery Dr. Andy Hamilton says he feels sympathy for patients like Tosh and assures them that work is underway to reduce wait times within IHA.

“Unfortunately we have a lot of patients waiting a long time for surgery, especially less urgent orthopedic surgery,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says IHA is trying to meet provincial targets with the goal of patients not having to wait more than 26 weeks for surgery but he admits it’s still a long way from that.

However, Hamilton says it’s in the process of developing a surgical strategy that would keep patients in the loop about their upcoming surgery so that patients like Tosh aren’t left in the dark.

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“That is exactly what we are trying to improve,” Hamilton said. “So that in the long term we hope that they will get information on how long they will wait, where they are in [the] queue and at least a rough idea when they should receive their surgery.”

The remedy, however, can’t come soon enough for Tosh.

“I just want my leg fixed,” she said. “I don’t want to keep waiting and waiting and waiting for this phone call that hasn’t come yet.”