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Better shoulder surgeries now available in Quesnel, thanks to Spirit of the North donation

Tammy Solecki, GR Baker Hospital OR nurse (left); Joanne George, Clinical Practice Leader; and Dr. Van Zyl, Orthopedic Surgeon stand alongside new equipment at a cost of over $200,000 for GR Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. Spirit of the North Healthcare photo

Even in a year that has seen its ups and downs, Spirit of the North Health Care Foundation staff are more than happy to announce that the enhanced shoulder surgery program at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital is up and running — and making a difference.

A year ago Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation was approached to support a funding campaign to see the addition of the shoulder surgical program at UHNBC extended to G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel.  Believing that what is good for Quesnel is good for the region, and what is good for the region is good for Quesnel, it was an easy response.  While the foundation had hoped to introduce this earlier in the year, the effects of COVID-19 and ability to have equipment arrive as scheduled it was challenging to stay on a set timeline.  Needless to say everything has arrived and G.R. Baker saw the first patient go through earlier this week.

Frank Balazs, a high school teacher from Prince George will be  the first patients to benefit from the enhanced surgical capacity.

“It makes total sense,” he said. “When I can travel an hour down the road and get my surgery sooner, it was an easy decision to make.”

His injury which stemmed from a snowboarding accident made him an ideal candidate for this surgical procedure.  Although he has been in continuous pain during the past year, he is understanding of the delay and is looking forward to being pain free following his surgery.  He said the staff in Quesnel were fantastic;  friendly, caring and professional, and the facilities were exactly what was needed. 

Currently three orthopedic surgeons travel to Quesnel to perform two to eight shoulder surgeries per month, so collectively this means potentially 96 surgeries annually.  Hoping to grow the list of orthopedic surgeons in Quesnel, this will provide northern residents quicker access to shoulder surgery and a substantial decrease the wait time.  With the addition of an insufflator, that was also funded through this project, the capacity to perform general and gynecology surgeries has increased as well.

“We greatly appreciate working with donors  to support enhancements in healthcare for surrounding communities.  Making a difference to wait times, adding services, and increasing OR times through the purchase of additional equipment  is key to moving forward for better health outcomes for residents of Northern BC.” said  Judy Neiser, CEO for the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation.  “It truly is win-win for the service delivery area and allows residents to resume life to the fullest more quickly.” 

The donation was made possible with the help of the Commonage Fund which helped support this program with $75,000 donation.  Additional support through donors  to the Spirit of the North have made this possible. 

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