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Prince George teacher one of first patients to benefit from Enhanced Shoulder Surgery program at Quesnel hospital

Project funded through Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation
[From left to right] Tammy Solecki, OR nurse; Joanne George, Clinical Practice Leader, and Dr. Van Zyl, Orthopedic Surgeon stand alongside new equipment at a cost of over $200,000 for G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital's shoulder surgery extension.

Another medical program in the north is now operating and hopes to ease wait times thanks to a recent financial boost. 

The Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation was approached last year to see if it would support a funding campaign to help see an extension of the shoulder surgical program at UHNBC in Prince George to G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. 

The foundation says the response was simple, knowing the program would benefit the region. 

"While we had hoped to introduce this earlier in the year, the effects of COVID and ability to have equipment arrive as scheduled it was challenging to stay on a set timeline," a release reads with equipment in the program costing more than $200,000.

"Needless to say everything has arrived and G.R. Baker saw the first patient go through earlier this week." 

The first patient to benefit from the service was Frank Balazs of Prince George. 

Balazs suffered a shoulder injury after a snowboarding accident, which made him an ideal candidate for the operation. 

“It makes total sense—when I can travel an hour down the road and get my surgery sooner, it was an easy decision to make," he explained after recently having his surgery, noting the experience was well done. 

"The staff in Quesnel were fantastic; friendly, caring and professional, and the facilities were exactly what was needed." 

The foundation says there are three orthopedic surgeons that travel to Quesnel to perform two to eight shoulder surgeries per month, which could see 96 surgeries completed annually. 

 Funding also helped with the addition of an insufflator that assists with the capacity to perform general and gynecology operations. 

"We greatly appreciate working with donors to support enhancements in healthcare for surrounding communities," Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation CEO Judy Neiser said. 

"Making a difference to wait times, adding services and increasing OR services through the purchase of additional equipment is key to moving forward for better health outcomes for residents of northern B.C.

"It truly is a win-win for the service delivery area and allows residents to resume life to the fullest more quickly."