The Bulkley Valley District Hospital (BVDH) in Smithers has provided screening and diagnostic mammography for more than 25 years to women and for some men from Hazelton to Burns Lake and all places in between.
Recently, we have heard that the analog system may not pass the next accreditation and that mammography services in BVDH may be discontinued as early as 2018.
Mr. Hikisch, administrator of BVDH, explained that other pathways were being explored for our mammography services here.
He told us his focus was on having the CT scanner installed and also an upgrade in our regular x-ray room done in 2018. We were pleased to hear that, but he referred several times to different pathways to mammography, and I had the feeling that it was a long pathway heading right out the door at BVDH.
This would indeed be a great loss to all women in our area. He did say that a proposed mobile mammography van would be brought here from time to time.
This would certainly not replace having a dedicated digital mammography unit as part of the imaging department at BVDH. Mammograms are done weekly now at BVDH and people can this service locally and not have travel and have the expense of long trips.
Scheduling is much easier as the service is regular, convenient and timely. If further follow up as coned views or ultrasound is required, this could be done locally and timely.
My fear is that many people will not make long, expensive trips out of town for screening tests but will procrastinate, which is human nature. The outcomes of later detection of breast cancer is riskier.
My question is why would Northern Health even consider not upgrading our service? The distances of other communities with upgraded services are much shorter than for the Smithers people. Let’s not be short-changed and insist that mammography services at our hospital be upgraded and maintained.
The people of our community do embrace all tests and procedures that can be performed at our hospital and I ask Northern Health provide us with up-to-date equipment for these procedures. Many tests are revenue generating.
This keeps skilled technical staff and their families living in our community and all of this contributes to the health and well-being of our community.