The specialized care UBC Hospital (UBCH) staff and physicians provide for patients with Parkinson's disease was front and centre on Tuesday as the Ministry of Health announced increased support for deep brain stimulation (DBS).
Beginning April 1, people with Parkinson's disease in B.C., whose symptoms can no longer be controlled with medication, will have improved access to DBS at UBCH. The number of primary insertion DBS surgeries will increase from 36 (in 2016-17) to 72 (for the 2019-20 fiscal year). This will substantially reduce wait time for patients and provide VCH employees with professional growth opportunities.
"We are increasing access to DBS for people living with advanced Parkinson's disease so they can manage their symptoms better and have an improved quality of life," said Minister of Health Adrian Dix during the announcement. “This plan leverages solutions in the public health-care system to increase the volume of primary insertion procedures by 100% over the existing baseline and reduce wait times."
DBS uses electrical impulses to stimulate targeted areas in the brain, which can help to control the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease. Surgery is required to implant the equipment that produces the electrical stimulation—this is known as “primary insertion".
“DBS is life-changing for patients and their families," said Dr. Gary Redekop, neurosurgeon and head of VCH-Vancouver's Department of Surgery. “It's serious surgery and it takes a team of very skilled clinicians including nurses, physicians, anesthesiologists, and allied health professionals. We're thrilled that with this additional funding, Dr. Honey and his team will be able to provide care for more British Columbians."
It takes a large, highly specialized team to deliver each eight-hour DBS operation. In 2017, UBCH expanded its neurosurgery scope to include this incredible procedure and many staff members began training with neurosurgeon Dr. Chris Honey to learn how to perform DBS. Since then, the UBCH team has been building on its successes and growing its expertise, allowing it to continually improve patient care.
“The expansion of DBS surgery is a testament to our talented team at UBC Hospital, whose passion and commitment for exceptional care are helping patients meet the everyday challenges of living with Parkinson's disease," says Andrea Bisaillon, operations director, surgical services. “Their efforts are changing lives and the expansion of service will enrich UBC Hospital's clinical community."