New heart stress testing equipment to Vanderhoof

Stress testing equipment for the heart is now available in St. John Hospital, thanks to $73,000 raised by the community of Vanderhoof.

Members of the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society (in green) and Vanderhoof's doctors and nurses gather by the new stress testing equipment (foreground) at its first day of scheduled appointments on May 26.

Members of the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society (in green) and Vanderhoof's doctors and nurses gather by the new stress testing equipment (foreground) at its first day of scheduled appointments on May 26.

Stress testing equipment for the heart is now available in St. John Hospital, thanks to $73,000 raised by the community of Vanderhoof.

“For a number of years, stress testing was available in Fraser lake, but over time the physicians who were accredited for the service have left the community,” explained April Hughes, Northern Health’s health services administrator of the Nechako Lakes/Omineca region. “Dr. Michael Makin and other physicians in Vanderhoof want to look at stress testing opportunities in Vanderhoof, allowing patients to see a doctor and do testing on the same day.”

Though still in use, the aging equipment in Fraser Lake will eventually be phased out, Hughes said.

By combining the visits, patients now only need to take one trip to their physician for stress testing, she added.

Vanderhoof currently has three doctors who have the credentials — earned through a three-month course at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver — to conduct the testing. Two nurses also travelled to Vancouver for three weeks of intensive training in using the equipment.

Measuring how the heart works during activity and used when heart issues are suspected, the equipment assists physicians in determining whether patients need intervention that would require them to travel beyond Prince George, Hughes said.

If necessary, patients can then return to Vanderhoof for cardiac rehabilitation programs currently available at the Omineca Medical Clinic.

The equipment will also serve patients travelling eastwards from Burns Lake and southwards from Fort St. James.

“It’s great that we can offer this opportunity to the community,” Hughes said, adding that the equipment will be in service once a week. “Hopefully we will have less cancellations associated with weather and travelling.”

To gather sufficient funds for the equipment, Hughes first approached the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society for the fundraising campaign.

“It’s fortunate for us to have this at home,” said Edna Oryshchuk, the society’s president. “I’ve heard patients expressing how fortunate they are that they just have to drive to Vanderhoof.”

Over 20 local businesses and private individuals contributed towards the campaign, and the society donated the largest amount at $15,000.

The first scheduled appointments for the stress testing equipment took place on May 26.