Vernon patients face long ultrasound wait times

Watch: Interior Health is defending staffing levels at Vernon Jubilee Hospital after a Lake Country woman was told she will have to wait more than half a year for an ultrasound ordered by her specialist.

A Lake Country woman is raising concerns about the wait times for ultrasounds at Vernon Jubilee Hospital (VJH) after being told she’ll have to wait more than six months for the scan.

When she was prescribed a heart ultrasound in mid-September, Dayna Pereverzoff never expected to be waiting for months.

“Apparently, my specialist isn’t even aware of the long wait time either as he told me to get my test done and to book an appointment for a week later to get my results,” Pereverzoff said.

After being told there was a staffing issue and she wouldn’t get in for the test till May 2020, more than seven months after the imaging was originally ordered, Pereverzoff is speaking out.

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“I was told they didn’t have a technician or the technician has been relocated, I was then told that they are looking to hire somebody,” she said.

“The wait time seems excessively long.”

However, despite what Pereverzoff was told, the health authority said its regular positions in the ultrasound department at VJH are fully staffed.

“We are not missing a technician at this point but we do have fairly extended waitlists. Unfortunately, some of that is built up over the years, there has historically been a lot of trouble recruiting ultrasound technologists in Canada, it’s a Canada-wide problem,” explained Interior Health’s program director for medical imaging Tim Rode.

Rode said that national shortage is improving as more training opportunities are created for ultrasound technologists.

However, the previous staffing shortages and an extended medical leave by one employee has left Vernon with an average cardiac ultrasound wait time of three months.

“We know the waitlist are longer than we would certainly like,” Rode said.

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“We are working hard to improve in that area and to increase our volumes.”

The health authority said it’s still able to see emergency cases within days if not immediately and patients are able to be seen at other facilities in Kelowna and Salmon Arm where wait lists are shorter.

Interior Health has no timeline for reducing Vernon’s backlog ultrasound appointments.

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However, the health authority is now looking to hire casual employees to back-fill when regulars are sick or on vacation in the hopes of bringing wait times for ultrasounds in Vernon down.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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