Page 1

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New shingles vaccine shows real promise page 8

photo: dan toulgoet

rick cluff Former CBC broadcaster shares heart surgery story page 6

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contents on the cover Rick Cluff advises everyone to “listen to their body.” photo: dan toulgoet

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Michelle Bhatti editor

Sandra Thomas contributing writers

John Kurucz, Cornelia Naylor, Martha Perkins creative director

Marina Rockey

For advertising inquiries, contact Michelle Bhatti at mbhatti@vancourier.com

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6 8 10 14 16 17 18

rick cluff talks heart surgery The week before announcing his retirement from CBC, the Early Edition host spoke with Healthier You about his health sandra thomas

NEW SHINGLES VACCINE AVAILABLE Clinical trials show Shingrix is 97 per cent effective in most older adults sandra thomas

Rx for the best medication MyDNA identifies which drugs work best for individual patients Martha Perkins

free naloxone kits London Drugs, Save-On Foods offer kits at their pharmacies putting the biological clock on ice Fertility expert says egg-freezing should be part of the conversations women have with their doctors martha perkins

avoid this year’s flu snafu Vancouver Coastal Health officials offer insights and statistics on beating this year’s flu season john kurucz

Burnaby Hospital No longer the “ugly little sister” of Fraser Health CORNELIA nAYLOR

volume 4, number 1, winter 2018 Published by glacier media. Copyright ©2018. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles permitted with credit. Advertisements in this magazine are coordinated by Glacier Media. Glacier Media does not endorse products or services. Any errors, omissions or opinions found in this magazine should not be attributed to the publisher. The authors, the publisher and the collaborating organizations will not assume any responsibility for commercial loss due to business decisions made based on the information contained in this magazine. Speak with your doctor before acting on any health information contained in this magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without crediting Glacier Media. Printed in Canada. Please recycle.

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SANDRA THOMAS Editor, Healthier You photo: Chung Chow

where can you find healthier you? In doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, pharmacies and other community settings, we will be waiting there, too – keeping you company, and sharing stories and insight into healthrelated issues that matter to you.

Waiting for your doctor? Pass the time by giving Healthier You a read We get it. You’re sitting in a doctor’s office waiting your turn and watching the clock in a busy waiting room. And sure, you could look at your phone to pass the time, but why not give Healthier You a read? Our goal is to provide you with information not always readily available on your mobile device, unless you know what you’re looking for and where to find it. For example, did you know there’s a new and reportedly better shingles vaccine available? Find out everything you need to know about Shingrix on page 8. As well, some good news from December 2017, is that naloxone kits are now available free at pharmacies. The bad news is there’s still a need for the kits, which can reverse a drug overdose by helping restore a person’s breathing. The announcement was made in response to the growing opioid epidemic in B.C. that has killed long-time addicts and recreational users alike. According to the latest statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service, more than 1,100 people died in B.C. between January and September, 2017, with 83 per cent connected to fentanyl.


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I felt it was important to include this information in Healthier You because, if after reading this story, just one person picks up a kit that saves just one life it’s a start to getting the word out. That’s just one of the stories we covered in this edition of Healthier You. In December I was lucky enough to speak with long-time CBC broadcaster Rick Cluff about his recent heart surgery, the week before he announced his retirement, and he was very candid in his remarks and even offered some advice. I’ve also included a story about Burnaby General Hospital, which in recent years scored a failing grade for patient care. Now, according to a report from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, conditions and the treatment of patients has vastly improved. And did you ever wonder why a drug or medication that works so well for a friend or family member is a complete disaster for you? Turns out it could be your DNA and an easy test now available to the public can help you pinpoint exactly which medications will work the best for you. Sandra Thomas editor, healthier you


Rick Cluff talks heart surgery Former Early Edition host Rick Cluff made changes to his life following quadruple bypass surgery in 2017 Sandra Thomas | editor

Former CBC broadcaster and recently retired host of the Early Edition Rick Cluff, says he remembers the moment just prior to undergoing open-heart surgery in June 2017. “I remember before being wheeled in for surgery I kissed my daughter and wife goodbye,” says Cluff. “Because that’s the kind of surgery it is — you don’t know if you’re going to make it.” Cluff spent two hours in pre-op and then underwent 6.5 hours of open-heart surgery, none of which he remembers. “It was like the snap of fingers later, but it was 11 a.m. the next day,” Cluff said during an interview at CBC Nov. 27. “And I woke up and felt like someone had shoved a set of barbecue utensils down my throat. But then with one eye I saw my daughter and with the other eye I saw my wife and my first thought was, ‘Hey, I made it.’” Cluff explains he never suffered a heart attack, but instead lived with hereditary heart disease that progressively got worse. Cluff’s dad died from heart disease in 1972. As a football player at school, Cluff’s heart didn’t give him any problems. It wasn’t until he reached his 30s that Cluff


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began suffering chest pains and was diagnosed with angina, pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, and supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heart beat.

and angina attacks later, that an interventional cardiologist implanted a stent into Cluff’s chest. A stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart to keep the arteries open.

“But then with one eye I saw my daughter and with the other eye I saw my wife and my first thought was, ‘Hey, I made it.’”

Cluff says that stent was implanted in November 2016, but in April 2017 his angina and accompanying pain was back. It was in April, 2017, when Cluff once again met with Dr. Jacqueline Saw at the Vancouver General Hospital’s Centre of Excellence in Cardiac Care. She placed a second stent inside the first. But three weeks later, Cluff was walking up the stairs at his home when the pain returned. This time, Dr. Saw broke the news he needed much more than a stent. After conferring with

RICK CLUFF Cluff was referred to a cardiologist and upon further investigation, it was decided he should have an angiogram because he had a number of blockages. But it wasn’t until a number of years CBC broadcaster Rick Cluff spoke candidly with Healthier You about his recent heart surgery just before his retirement.

cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Richard Cook, VGH interventional and structural cardiologist Dr. David Wood, and Dr. Saul Isserow, director of the VGH Centre for Cardiovascular Health, it was decided Cluff needed open-heart surgery, which included sawing his chest open and paralyzing his lungs and heart for 90 minutes. Unbeknownst to Cluff until later, he endured and survived a quadruple bypass. “If I had to give some advice, I’d say that old thing — you should listen to your body,” says Cluff. “When I was having chest pains I dismissed them and thought it’s just indigestion, it will pass. I’m blessed to have the cardiovascular team that I have.”

Since the surgery, Cluff has made several lifestyle changes, including attending cardiovascular rehabilitation exercise classes three times a week, watching what he eats, cutting back on his salt intake — and announcing his retirement.

Long time Early Edition broadcaster Rick Cluff announced his retirement in December after 41 years with CBC Radio. photo: dan toulgoet

photo: dan toulgoet

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Clinical trials show Shingrix is 97 per cent effective in most older adults Sandra Thomas | editor

The medical director of Vancouver Coastal Health’s travel clinic says a new shingles vaccine recently approved in Canada offers more benefits than Zostavax, the drug approved more than a decade ago. “You can give Shingrix to people who are immune compromised because it’s a killed vaccine, not a live one,” says Dr. Suni Boraston.


Shingles Vaccine

available in Vancouver


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That means the vaccine is safe for people living with cancer, who have taken high doses of Prednisone or who’ve had a kidney transplant. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by a re-activation of chicken pox. Anyone who’s had that childhood disease is in danger of contracting the virus again, but this time with a vengeance. The chicken pox virus can lay dormant for years, but typically returns in people 50 and older. More than 130,000 Canadians are diagnosed with shingles each year and the majority of them are seniors. For the lucky ones, shingles symptoms can be as minor as a rash and slight pain, but for others the results can be devastating and debilitating. Severe complications of shingles can include blisters and extreme nerve pain even after those sores have healed, vision loss, flesh-eating disease and neurological problems. Shingles can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Boraston says the current vaccine Zostavax is about 54 per cent effective against shingles and 67 per cent against the pain, while Shingrix is 97 per cent effective for many older adults. She adds it’s also thought Shingrix will provide life-long immunity. Since the new vaccine has only been around for four years, that’s yet to be confirmed. Zostavax offers about five years of protection. Shingrix was approved in Canada in October 2017 for use in adults aged 50 years and older. But, Boraston says, there’s no need to run out and get Shingrix if you’ve recently had the Zostavax vaccine.

“Don’t waste your money,” says Boraston, who has had the Zostavax vaccine. “Zostavax is good for five years.” Neither of the vaccines are cheap. At the Vancouver Coastal Health travel clinic, Shingrix is $300 for the two-part vaccine — the doses are given two to six months apart for $150 a visit. Meanwhile Zostavax, which can be administered at a pharmacy within B.C., costs between $200 and $240 including tax and dispensing fees. Boraston says anyone who has recently received Zostavax, but is still eager to have the Shingrix vaccine, should wait at least eight weeks. According to GSK Vaccines, the creators of Shingrix, the approval was based on three clinical trials evaluating the drug’s efficacy, safety and immunogenicity involving more than 37,000 participants at 31 trial sites — more than 2,100 of the trial volunteers were from across Canada. The results of the trial showed that in healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 69, Shingrix reduced the likelihood of shingles by 97 per cent, compared with 70 per cent for Zostavax. In the 70 to 79 age group, the vaccine was 91 per cent effective compared to 41 per cent for Zostavax, and in the 80 and older group, the drug was 91 per cent effective versus 18 per cent for Zostavax. Boraston says a common side effect of Shingrix is pain at the injection site. At this time the only province that provides Zostavax at no charge to seniors aged 65 to 70 is Ontario. In response to questions from Healthier You about funding the drug, the B.C. Ministry of Health said once Health Canada has approved a vaccine, there are other levels of review that must take place before a vaccine is included in B.C.’s public immunization program. Once a vaccine is available in Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization reviews it and makes recommendations to the provinces and territories. When the committee has reviewed and made recommendations and supply and pricing information has been attained, B.C.'s own Communicable Disease Policy Advisory Committee, led by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, will make its recommendations to the government for a decision to include or exclude this vaccine in the provincial immunization program. For more information visit vch.ca.

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for the best medication

This should allow doctors and pharmacists to avoid the “trial and error” approach to finding the right prescriptions. Right now the testing is available in four categories:  pain  mental health  cardio-vascular and  gastro-intestinal (acid reflux medication)

myDNA identifies which drugs work best for individual patients Martha Perkins | Contributing writer

Danuta Mossford didn’t need proof that she had adverse reactions to some of the medications she was prescribed.

But now that she’s had her DNA tested to discover how her body reacts Photo: Vincent L. Chan to different Photography prescriptions, the relief is immense.

Danuta Mossford talks over her myDNA results with Nelli Jakac, the pharmacist at Cambie Pharmasave.

“The results showed me that some of the most common medications are not right for me,” she says. For instance, she now knows she will have “significant adverse effects” to some types of blood thinners and that there are other drugs that could potentially save her life.

The myDNA test revealed that a medication she was taking for several years was the least effective for her. “I suffered horrid side effects and, at the time, I felt that the illness would be better than the medication. Now that I’m on the right medication, it’s like night and day for me.” Mossford and her husband Lawrence took the simple cheekswab test last August as part of a trial run before myDNA was introduced at 60 pharmacies throughout B.C. in December 2016. “We feel so empowered now,” she says. “It should be as common as getting a blood test done.”

a drug faster and you potentially won’t get the benefit of the drug. On the opposite end, if your body can’t clear the drug effectively, you could have too much of the medication in your body and it could lead to side effects. “MyDNA identifies which gene variants you have and, once we know, we can make predictions about which medications you’ll respond to and which ones you should avoid.”

“Some of the genes, which are highly involved in how we process medication, are highly variable,” he says. “When the genes are overreacting, our bodies might clear

Each category test costs $80 or you can test all four categories, plus a few other medications, for $199. Since our genetics don’t change, the information is useful for current conditions as well as future ones.

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The myDNA test will not identify whether you have risks to develop certain illnesses, Wong says. “It will only tell you how you respond to medications. For some individuals it can make a huge difference, especially for mental health medication.

Today, she says, “I am so grateful I had it done. It was eye-opening. Now my husband and I can make better, informed choices.” To find out which pharmacies are participating in the DNA testing, go to mydna.life.


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Bryce Wong is the general manager of the B.C. Pharmacy Association’s RxOme Pharmacogenomics Canada. Photo: BC Pharmacy Association

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When Mossford first heard about the myDNA test, she was a bit hesitant. “I thought it might be one of those ancestry things and I wasn’t interested.”

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Bryce Wong is the general manager for RxOme Pharmacogenomics Canada, a joint venture founded in 2017 between the B.C. Pharmacy Association and myDNA. Wong says pharmacode genetics is the study of how our genetics influence our drug responses.

“It’s fantastic that it’s available now and at a cost that’s accessible. Over the next couple of years, we will see a proliferation of these DNAbased services.”

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Dr. Aly Kanani, Certified Orthodontist Specialist. right: Dr. Kanani caring for his patient.

Children as young as seven benefit from a visit to the orthodontist Although it might seem like only yesterday that your child lost his or her baby teeth, parents should consider making an appointment with an orthodontist for children as young as seven. Not only is it better to start early if corrective procedures are needed, but you can’t only rely on a general dentist to notice all the potential problems that orthodontists have spent an additional two to three years of training to identify, says Dr. Aly Kanani. Even parents might not realize there’s a problem just by looking at a young child’s teeth. “Parents don’t pick up subtleties like we do,” he says. Dr. Kanani is a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics at both Langley Orthodontics and Guildford Orthodontic Centre. The Canadian Association of Orthodontists, of which he’s also a member, recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven. There are two reasons for needing corrective procedures: skeletal changes and dental changes. When skeletal or jaw changes are required, you will have more success the earlier you begin. The jaw starts to fuse as we get older and it happens at a younger age for girls compared to boys.

photos: david buzzard

By correcting any alignment problems early, the procedures are “typically less intrusive, less costly and more predictable,” Dr. Kanani says. “It’s also good for educational reasons to visit an orthodontist early — you will learn a lot.”


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Children’s self-confidence also grows when they can feel good about their smiles. Dr. Kanani is one of the leading Invisalign specialists in the Lower Mainland. Invisalign is for teens and adults who have minor to moderate orthodontic problems and want an alternative to braces. “It works for many people but not for all,” he says.

The aligners are worn for a minimum of 20 to 22 hours a day. The only time they are taken out is when you are eating, brushing or flossing (and you must brush and floss after every meal.) It takes minimal time to get used to talking with the aligners, which are changed every one to two weeks, but they are virtually invisible.

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And in this day and age with so much emphasis on Facebook and selfies, everyone wants a nice smile. Dr. Aly Kanani, Certified Orthodontist Specialist

Compliance is essential, says Dr. Kanani. Invisalign Teen was created with teenagers in mind and each aligner has a blue-to-clear compliance indicator that serves as a gauge to how long each aligner has been worn. The indicator will turn clear if the teenage patient has worn it enough. “Parents will be surprised by how willing their child is to wear the aligners all the time,” Dr. Kanani says. “More often than not, teenagers are better at compliance than adults. Teens don’t complain because, for them, at least it’s not braces. They also want to prove to their parents that they are responsible.” For those who need braces, one thing to consider is braces for a short time when children are younger. A nine-year-old might not be ready for full braces until they are 12 to 14 years old, but they don’t want to spend three years being self-conscious about their teeth. Short-term braces allow for some remedial work while setting the stage for the “heavy lifting” a few years later. Dr. Kanani has seen the positive difference that a visit to the orthodontist can have. “You can see it in their personality,” he says. He’s watched extremely shy children develop into self-confident, smiling young people. By having properly aligned teeth, “their confidence goes up. Some of the shyest kids have the most gleaming smiles in the middle of their treatments. They go from being teased to looking better than their friends. “And in this day and age with so much emphasis on Facebook and selfies, everyone wants a nice smile.”

Langley orthodontics Suite 201-19978 72nd Ave. Langley, BC t 604.533.6696 W langleyorthodontics.com guildford orthodontics Suite 200-10203 152A st. Surrey, BC t 604.589.2212 W guildfordorthodontics.com Dr. Aly Kanani W dralykanani.com winter 2018


naloxone kits

for overdoses now available in pharmacies staff writer

Drug users and people likely to witness a drug overdose can now pick up free kits at B.C. pharmacies that contain the overdose-reversing drug, naloxone. Judy Darcy, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, announced Dec. 20 that the expansion of the “Take Home Naloxone” program that was first launched by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in 2012. The kits, which contain ampules of naloxone and syringes, had until Wednesday been only available at drug injection sites, needle exchanges, health units, hospital emergency departments, corrections facilities and First Nations sites. More than 57,000 kits have been given out since 2012. Darcy said the expansion of the program to pharmacies has, so far, seen 1,900 kits supplied to more than 220 pharmacies in the province, including those at London Drugs and Save-on-Foods.

Darcy said people who want a free kit will be trained by a pharmacist. Training is also available online at TowardTheHeart.com, a website that provides a list of pharmacies with the kit. Dr. Jane Buxton of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said when the “Take Home Naloxone” program launched five years ago, there was little talk about the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, or naloxone. Buxton added 622 kits were distributed in 2013 and only 36 were used. This year, the harm reduction program at the centre distributed 30,000 kits, with nearly 7,000 of those being used to reverse an overdose. Pharmacist Alex Dar Santos, president of the B.C. Pharmacy Association, said pharmacists know about being on the frontlines of epidemics. Dar Santos noted pharmacies made “hundreds of thousands” of flu shots available to people during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. “With the growing opioid epidemic, we are ready and willing to be on the frontlines again,” he said. The B.C. Coroners Service’s most recent overdose death statistics revealed more than 1,100 people died in B.C. between January and September, with 83 per cent connected to fentanyl.


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Avoid this year’s flu snafu Vancouver Coastal Health officials offer insights and statistics on beating this year’s flu season John Kurucz | Contributing writer

Your bedridden roommate, downtrodden co-worker and man-cold manifesto all point to the same thing — peak flu season is upon us in B.C. 

Many advancements have been made in the successful freezing of a woman’s eggs.

Staffers with Vancouver Coastal Health aren’t seeing much in the way of statistical anomalies, as doctors’ visits and emergency department visits for influenza are in line with the historical averages for this time of year. That said, one particular flu strain — known as Influenza B — has shown up three months earlier than it typically does.

Putting the biological clock

“There is no good explanation as to why this is occurring. It really highlights the fact that changes in flu patterns are very difficult to predict,” says VCH medical health officer John Harding. 

Fertility expert says egg-freezing should be part of the conversations women have with their doctors

Harding notes that predicting flu patterns or the severity of a given flu season is difficult, if not impossible. The most common types of flu viruses that circulate in winter months are two strains of Influenza A, which are referred to as H3N2 and H1N1. This season, nearly 50 per cent of flu cases in B.C. have been Influenza B. 

Martha Perkins | Contributing writer

Putting the biological clock on ice It used to be that when women talked about being able to control their destiny, part of the conversation revolved around contraception. By being able to choose when they were emotionally and financially ready to have a child, women could devote their energies into building solid relationships and careers. Today, however, that means many women are not prepared to start a family until well into their thirties or early forties. Building a career takes time — time that is also measured by their “biological clock.” While men don’t have to worry as much about how old they are when they have children, women know that the viability of their eggs has been declining ever since they hit puberty. “The fertility gender gap is real,” Dr. Sonya Kashyap said at a recent Public Salon at the Vancouver Playhouse. 16

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In evolutionary terms, it made sense that women had children when they were younger and could care for their young, she says. However, “Mother Nature didn’t know we’d be living longer and trying to balance family and careers.” She believes that at this point in time “there should be no glass ceiling either professionally or personally.” Dr. Kashyap is the medical director of Genesis Fertility Clinic. She says great strides have been made in technology

when it comes to freezing a woman’s eggs. Because eggs contain a lot of water, it used to be difficult to freeze eggs without damaging them. That’s all changed now.

While flu shots are still available, Harding notes the importance of differentiating flu symptoms with what’s commonly referred to as the stomach flu. Known as norovirus, the condition isn’t technically a flu, but an infection. There are no vaccines to protect against it and antibiotics wouldn’t do the trick either. 
 Characterized by intense vomiting and diarrhea, norovirus is contracted directly through contact — shaking hands, for example — or indirectly by eating food that’s been contaminated by someone with the infection. Recovery time is usually 24 to 72 hours, and there is no specific treatment for it other than drinking plenty of fluids. “It’s important to stay home from school or work until you are well for at least 48 hours to make sure you are no longer infectious to others,” Harding says. 
 Vaccines typically take two weeks to work through the body to the point that the necessary antibodies are developed to fight against the flu. If you haven’t gotten one yet, experts agree it can still be effective.

She wants a shift in how women talk about their futures as career women and mothers.


“Egg-freezing education is as important as contraception education,” she said. “We can now freeze eggs for whenever we’re ready — whenever ready means.”

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Burnaby Hospital

outbreaks of the superbug C. difficile about six years ago — on the facility’s age. Parts of it are more than 65 years old.

No longer the ‘ugly little sister of Fraser Health’: surgeon

During the provincial election, Premier John Horgan promised to fix up the hospital and then replace it for an estimated $2.1 billion.

Cornelia Naylor | Contributing writer

For orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Tim Kostano, a downward curve on a graph is a thing of beauty. The graph shows the number of surgical complications at Burnaby Hospital over the last few years.

"We're going to make sure that the existing facility is up to a standard that the people of Burnaby can be comfortable with, but that hospital needs to be replaced, and we're going to build a new one," Horgan said in April.

“We’ve just got this beautiful kind of trend that shows that, as our volume has gone up, our experience has gone up, and that our complication rates are just coming lower and lower,” said Kostamo. “It’s beautiful to see that.”

Despite its age, however, Burnaby Hospital currently “totally punches over its weight,” according to Kostamo.

The orthopedic data, which includes things such as blood clots and infections, is just one set of indicators tracked through the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.


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01/16 - 12/16

Politicians and doctors have blamed some of the hospital’s problems —including deadly



“It’s easy to look at what you’re doing yourself and say, ‘Hey, I’m doing great.’ I think that’s just how we are,” Kostamo said. “To prove it, I think you’ve got to look at what the other hospitals are doing. I think the more you compare, the more powerful it is.” Take hospital-acquired urinary tract infections (UTIs). About three years ago, Kostamo said, the NSQIP data showed Burnaby was consistently registering high UTI rates in relation to other hospitals. After discussions about possible causes, the hospital changed its practice of automatically inserting catheters in certain patients (like those with hip fractures), implemented an education push reinforcing proper, sterile techniques for catheterization, and switched to a different kind of catheter. Since implementing the changes, the hospital’s UTI rates have gone from “needs improvement” to “as expected” in all surgical areas, and to better than average for general, orthopedic and plastic surgeries. Like many other improvements at the hospital in recent years, the process was sparked by solid data, Kostamo says.


07/15 - 06/16

It also ranked in the worst three per cent of similar hospitals for fixing fractured hips within 48 hours and had “multiple outliers and needs-improvement areas” in its NSQIP data.

A NSQIP dedicated nurse, Darlene Jaeger, gathers and submits data on 238 different procedures for six broad categories: general surgery, orthopedic surgery, urology, plastics, otolaryngoscopy (ear, nose, and throat) and gynecology. The hospital can access raw NSQIP data any time, but four times a year the program also sends reports showing how Burnaby’s numbers stack up compared to other hospitals.

01/15 - 12/15

For Kostamo, who is going into his 10th year at the facility, it’s validation the local hospital is no longer the “ugly little sister of Fraser Health.”

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tim Kostamo says the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) has helped Burnaby Hospital improve outcomes for patients.

07/14 - 06/15

dr. tim kostamo

Things weren’t looking so good for the hospital three years ago, when it was hammered in a provincial review of the Fraser Health Authority. The report found Burnaby Hospital had been the worst in Canada for three years between 2010 and 2012 for “nursing-sensitive adverse events,” a category that includes hospital acquired urinary tract

infections, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and in-hospital falls leading to fractures.

01/14 - 12/14

“Burnaby right now is doing an awesome job in these things.”

“Here’s these numbers saying that, hey, it’s not,” he said. “Burnaby right now is doing an awesome job in these things. I think that’s big news.”

NSQIP is one of the tools hospital staff has used to turn things around, Kostamo says. Burnaby was the third B.C. hospital to join the program — run by the American College of Surgeons — in 2009.

burnaby hospital orthopedic Morbidity NSQIP Semiannual reports January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2016


This year, Burnaby Hospital’s NSQIP numbers were so good it earned “meritorious” standing, putting it in the top 10 per cent of 680 Canadian and U.S. hospitals in the program.

“Sure, we have an older facility,” he said, “but there’s nothing I as a surgeon can do about that. There’s nothing the staff can do about that, but we’re the

highest volume of total joints in all of Fraser Health. We’re doing operations in our little community hospital that they’re not doing anywhere else in Fraser Health, like hip arthroscopy.”


“If you don’t have the data, you can’t make decisions,” he said. A National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) graph showing orthopedic surgery complications at Burnaby hospital shows steady improvement since the second half of 2014.

winter 2018


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Healthier You Winter 2018  

Healthier You Winter 2018