“When I arrived in Prince Albert 17 years ago, I was humbled by the local support that this community has for its hospital, and certainly, for its eye program,” said Dr. Todd Buglass, an ophthalmologist at the hospital.
There are currently three ophthalmologists in the city. Buglass said the equipment has been needed for at least a decade.
“This is just a continuation of the service clubs’ interest -- Lions (Club and) Odd Fellows and Rebekahs -- just wanting to see the facility, the regional centre realized, because we have lots to offer here,” he added.
According to executive director of the Victoria Hospital Foundation Rob Dalziel, the Lions Club approached the hospital about making a donation.
“Members of the Prince Albert Lions Club contacted the Victoria Hospital Foundation to enquire about where the greatest need was in the eye clinic that could match the size of donation they wanted to make,” Dalziel wrote in a press release.
The electrocautery machine was at the top of the list, with the Lions Club covering the majority of the cost and the foundation kicking in the remaining $6,000.
“What this equipment does is it cuts and cauterizes -- cauterizing meaning controlling bleeding during surgical procedures. And the eyelids are a very vascular area, so they bleed a lot,” Buglass said.
He added that the new equipment will allow for the eyelid-related procedures to take place, without using up precious operating time.
“This allows us to do those procedures in a safe environment but not as controlled as the operating room,” Buglass continued. “We’ll be able to perform those in ambulatory care more safely and more confidently.”
Buglass estimated that he sees about 10 patients a month for the procedures and said that number would increase with the new equipment.
As well, the new service is exemplary of the hospital broadening its service. Fewer patients will have to travel to larger centres to receive treatment.
Buglass said his ultimate goal is for the hospital to offer a comprehensive retinal program to help patients with macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Suzanne Bantle, president of the Prince Albert Lions Club, said the money to fund the new equipment came from a variety of local sources.
“We took some money from our bingos that we have, and we also have a craft sale in the month of October, so we utilized some of that money,” she said. “Also, we got a donation from Charlie Squires for his jams and jellies sold, and it was earmarked for vision.”
Bantle noted that, after discussing the need for other eye equipment at the hospital, more contributions may be on the way.
“We will look at that, and then we’ll probably do something more,” she said. “Our mandate is eye care and vision and that, so we want to make sure that a lot of the citizens of Prince Albert and the surrounding area are able to see like everybody else does.”