The Okanagan stepped into the big leagues of medicine this week.
Doctors successfully performed the first open-heart surgery in B.C. outside the Lower Mainland or Victoria at Kelowna General Hospital.
The new program is great news for patients here in the Valley, who would otherwise wait in limbo, taking up hospital beds until surgery time was available at the Coast.
The cardiac care program saves money and cuts inconvenience in a double win for taxpayers and patients.
And things will only get better once construction of the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre is complete. Work is set to begin soon and, once completed in 2016, the facility will house 15 operating rooms, a heart-focused intensive care unit and a medical-tool sterilization room.
Surgeons expect to perform about 600 operations a year once the program is fully up to speed.
Already, the hospital's angioplasty team is performing more than 1,000 procedures a year, relieving more pressure on health-care resources at the Coast and providing service close to home for patients throughout the Okanagan.
Together with the new hospital tower at KGH and the hospital's partnership with UBC Okanagan to create a medical school here, health-care delivery in the Valley has never been better.
And while there is still work to be done on wait times for patients, the picture is improving.
A new study by the Fraser Institute found B.C. third best in Canada, with surgery wait times dropping to 17 weeks, down from 19.3 weeks last year.
All in all, a job well done.
Here's to your good health!
- Managing Editor