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Category "Local Health"

16Sep

Travel for childbirth ‘terrifying and traumatic’ for Bella Coola moms

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https://vancouversun.com/


Mom Shaiyena Currie, right, with 3-day-old baby Octavia and her sister Chelsea Currie on their way home to Bella Coola from Williams Lake after three weeks of living in a tent waiting for the birth.


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Three weeks after the birth of her daughter Octavia, Bella Coola mom Shaiyena Currie, 23, is still recovering from the trauma of spending 14 days in a tent during the final stretch of her pregnancy.

Since 2008, when Vancouver Coastal Health cut maternity services at Bella Coola General Hospital, pregnant women in the community must travel to Williams Lake a month before their due date.

Pregnant women who travel for their deliveries in the VCH region are eligible for some discounts on ferries and airfares, and a medical discount of about 30 per cent at select hotels, but meals, accommodation, mileage, fuel and local transportation expenses are not included in the provincial Travel Assistance Program.

Currie estimates that the total cost to her and her family for the birth was around $10,000, in part because her sister had to take an unpaid leave from her job to accompany Currie.

“I was worried for my safety. I stayed up all night tossing and turning because of the fear that anybody could just walk into my tent,” said Currie who pitched her tent at the Stampede Campground, not far from Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake.

When a busy horse riding competition started on the stampede grounds, Currie moved to the Stampeder Motel where the slightly discounted medical rate came to $90 a night, plus taxes and fees. The final insult was that she had to give birth alone, because her sister had to watch her son at the hospital while she was delivering. Her mother had planned to be there, but couldn’t make the six-hour drive in time.

Currie calls the whole situation “terrifying and traumatic,” and says people need to know the health and safety risks pregnant women face when travelling to give birth.


Bella Coola mother Katy Best must travel to Richmond to give birth.

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Katy Best is a Bella Coola Grade 5 teacher who is expecting her first child will moving back in with her mother in Richmond next week while she awaits her birth.

In a letter to health authorities advocating for change, Best wrote on Aug. 29, “The disruptions to these mothers’ lives are countless, including having to leave children behind or pull them out of school, feeling isolated from their communities and partners at a very vulnerable time, and missing out on nesting at home during their final month of pregnancy.”

Best said she was required to sign a waver stating that she understood childbirth was “inherently dangerous,” and that she would be required to leave the community to give birth.

“If leaving the community is deemed a medical necessity by health authorities, why aren’t the costs covered?”

“This is an equity issue,” says Best, who points out that pregnancy is not a “rare or unforeseeable condition.”

“Based on the fact that you give birth, you have to take on this enormous financial and emotional hardship.”

Best believes that Vancouver Coastal Health saved money by shutting down Bella Coola General’s maternity program, and “off-loaded those costs onto women and families.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health told Postmedia in an email, “Improving travel assistance supports, especially for expectant mothers and families, is an issue that I am looking into with the input of Ministry of Health staff and health authorities.”

Vancouver Coastal Health provided Postmedia with a written statement which read in part, “Vancouver Coastal Health recognizes the difficulties in providing health services to residents of remote and rural communities. This issue is not unique to British Columbia, or even to Canada for that matter. Bella Coola Hospital does not have full maternity service.”

A 2013 study published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information said 40 per cent of women living in rural Canada drive more than an hour to give birth; 17 per cent drive more than two hours.

A 2008 report from the Centre for Rural Health Research on Maternity Care in Bella Coola stated that cuts to rural maternity services tend to be driven by a trend toward centralization of health services and challenges in attracting nurse, general practitioner surgeons and specialists and lack of access to specialized services such as “access to epidural anesthesia, labour augmentation, or caesarean section backup.”

It’s not good enough for Currie.

“I don’t want another woman to have to sleep in a tent, or worse. Something needs to be arranged so mothers are safe and can give birth in their communities.”

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16Sep

B.C. ends practice of ‘birth alerts’ in child-welfare cases

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https://vancouversun.com/


Maternity ward at Richmond Hospital


Francis Georgian / PNG

The B.C. government is ending a practice that allowed hospitals to inform child-welfare agencies of possible safety risks to infants at birth without the consent of parents.

Katrine Conroy, the minister of Children and Family Development, says so-called hospital or birth alerts have “primarily” been used in cases involving marginalized women and “disproportionately” in births for Indigenous women.

Conroy says the province is changing its approach in cases where children might be at risk.

Instead of alerts, Conroy says the province will work collaboratively with parents expecting a child to keep newborns safe and families together. She says birth alerts are used by a number of provinces and territories, but B.C. is ending the decades-old practice effective immediately.

Conroy says Indigenous communities and organizations, as well as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, has called for the practice to stop.

“We acknowledge the trauma women experience when they become aware that a birth alert has been issued,” Conroy says in a statement released Monday. “Health-care providers and social-service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent from those parents and will stop the practice of birth alerts.”

16Sep

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

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https://vancouversun.com/


Oxycodone tablets and pills


BackyardProduction / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The British Columbia government says any proposed settlement from opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma needs to include Canadian claims for the devastation created by the overdose crisis.

Purdue, the maker of the pain drug OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in the United States and proposed a multibillion-dollar plan to settle with thousands of state and local governments.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says the province has been monitoring the developments including a tentative agreement that proposes to resolve the claims as part of a global resolution.

Eby says the province remains “ready and willing” to participate in the effort to achieve the resolution but if B.C. is not included in the process then the government will to continue its lawsuit that names Purdue and several other opioid makers.

The province filed a proposed class-action lawsuit a year ago alleging drug manufactures falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain medicines, triggering an overdose crisis that has killed thousands.

Eby says if the company wants to achieve a global resolution then any proposed agreement needs to account for payment to Canadian claims.

14Sep

Former Port Alberni mayor pushes for drug decriminalization as path to treatment

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https://vancouversun.com/


John Douglas, special projects co-ordinator for the Port Alberni Shelter Society and a former mayor and councillor for the city. [PNG Merlin Archive]


Submitted: John Douglas / PNG

The former mayor of Port Alberni has released a report in which he supports calls for drug decriminalization in order to protect British Columbians from overdoses and other related harm, and help them find appropriate treatment.

John Douglas, who was a paramedic for 23 years, wrote “Working Towards a Solution: Resolving the Case between Crime and Addiction” following an information-gathering trip to Portugal, and recently released it to the media.

Douglas, now special projects co-ordinator for the Port Alberni Shelter Society, explained Thursday that the paper is not a scientific analysis, but rather a “from-my-gut” exploration of what he has learned while working in the fields of social housing, mental health, poverty and addiction.

He calls for the province to engage doctors, lawyers and police, as well as the public, to make addiction and possession of addictive substances solely a health issue, under healthy ministry jurisdiction. He wants the government to develop a supply model for addictive drugs to eliminate health problems associated with contaminated street drugs.

More than 4,300 people have died of an illicit-drug overdose in B.C. since the provincial government declared a public health emergency in April, 2016. Fentanyl was detected in most cases.

Douglas recommends the development of long-term, affordable and flexible treatment communities and “health teams” to provide services. He asks the province to tell the federal government “politely and firmly” that it intends to move forward with a pilot program which is open to federal participation.

“I’ve been a politician myself — no higher than a municipal level — but I find political people, as well-meaning as they are, tend to lag behind movements, sometimes, in society,” Douglas said. “I’ve talked to so many people in the health, enforcement and legal fields that all agree (addiction) should be treated as a health issue, but the political end is lagging behind because they’re afraid of losing votes or saying the wrong thing and offending somebody.”

Douglas entered politics in 2008 as a councillor in Port Alberni and served as mayor from 2011 to 2014. After the fentanyl-related overdose crisis emerged, he helped bring a sobering centre and overdose prevention and inhalation sites to the city.

His decades of experience in health care and helping people who have addictions helped him come to the conclusion that people with addictions should be in health care, not the criminal justice system.

Earlier this year, he attended a forum in Portugal where he learned about the country’s approach to addiction and overdoses. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs for personal use in response to a surge in heroin use.

“With the shelter, we’re working toward researching models of therapeutic communities that could work for treatment, if and when we can get the government to start moving in the direction of decriminalization and the direction of adequate treatment for people with addictions, instead of these pathetic 30- to 60-day treatment programs that are commonplace over here,” Douglas said.

Decriminalization would apply to all drugs — even heroin and methamphetamine — but falls short of legalization, which removes prohibitions but also develops regulations for the production, sale and use of a substance (Canada’s approach to cannabis is an example).

In a special report released last April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged the B.C. government to implement decriminalization for simple possession for personal use.

Henry said B.C. could use its powers under the Police Act to allow the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-General to set broad provincial priorities with respect to people who use drugs. Or it could enact a regulation under the act to prevent police from using resources to enforce against simple possession offences under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth shot down Henry’s proposal, saying laws around the possession of controlled substances remain federal and “no provincial action can change that.”

Douglas sides with Henry on the issue.

“I wanted to be an additional voice to echo those findings,” he said. “I agree wholeheartedly with her. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to do this.”

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13Sep

Municipalities back Vancouver motion to push Ottawa for safer drugs

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https://vancouversun.com/


Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart joined Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service’s Capt. Jonathan Gormick to discuss the epidemic of drug-related deaths, at a press conference in Vancouver on Friday, September 6, 2019.


Jason Payne / PNG

Local governments across Canada will press the federal government to increase access to safer drugs, and declare a national health emergency in response to the fentanyl-driven overdose crisis, after a motion by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart was passed Friday.

Stewart’s motion, drafted with his overdose emergency task force, was approved by city council in July. Coun. Rebecca Bligh brought it to a Federation of Canadian Municipalities executive meeting this week.

The motion requires the federation to call on Ottawa to support health authorities, doctors, their professional colleges and provinces to “safely provide regulated opioids and other substances through a free and federally available Pharmacare program.”

The federation will also demand that the federal government declares a national public health emergency and provides exemptions to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, so that cities and towns can run pilot programs which prioritize a move toward a “safe” drug supply.

Stewart said Friday that there was some division among the federation’s membership over the motion but it passed following an effective speech by Bligh. He hopes it will “shift the national dialogue toward a safe supply” during the federal election.

He wants the substances act exemptions to allow health professionals with a non-profit organization to distribute diacetylmorphine, which local research has shown can be an effective treatment for chronic, relapsing opioid dependence.

Stewart met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two weeks ago and told him what Vancouver needs in order to replace fentanyl-tainted street drugs with a safer, regulated supply, he said.

“It was a private conversation but I can say that I left the conversation in good spirits,” Stewart said. “I was definitely heard and that was very important.”

Stewart said front line responders are fatigued, people are experiencing multiple overdoses and suffering brain injuries, and the city and province desperately need the federal government to step up.

“We’re going to have to take it to the next level here. We’re reducing overdose deaths but overdoses are increasing. Just not dying isn’t good enough,” he said.

“It’s got to be life and hope for people.”

Karen Ward, a drug user and advocate for others who use drugs, helped with the motion and was pleased the municipalities passed it.

“If a province is a bit hesitant, the idea is that this will give a city the power to take rapid action — and individual doctors, in fact,” she said.

“It’s a necessity to have safe supply at this point because the supply has become so contaminated everywhere.”

Ward said the federation can now send a clear message to Ottawa that municipalities want the power to treat the overdose crisis “like a real” public health emergency.

“This is one way to get them to talk about it, face it squarely and acknowledge this massive disaster, and say look, we need to change our (approach),” she said.

“We need to take it as seriously as possible. It’s a health issue. It’s also a justice issue.”

According to the federal government, there have been more than 9,000 apparent opioid-related deaths across the country since 2016.

Illicit drugs killed 1,533 people in B.C. in 2018 and 538 in the first half of 2019, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

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13Sep

Town Talk: Treana Peake’s at-home rock concert benefits South Sudanese people

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ENCORE: Fancy having the Nickelback band and signers Barney Bentall, Jim Cuddy, Shawn Hook and Stephen Kellogg perform at your Gleneagles waterfront home. That happened when the Obakki clothing line owner, Treana Peake, staged the second annual White Envelope fundraiser at her, spouse Ryan and neighbour Judith Stewart’s estate-style properties. Ryan is a Nickelback band member. The event reportedly raised $400,000 to help sustain the Obakki Foundation’s educational, clean-water and other sustainable projects in South Sudan and nearby nations. Treana welcomed former South Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal who is now a Toronto-based singer, screen actor (The Good Lie), political activist and leadership lecturer. His maxim: “Turn your eyes inside yourself and, as you change, saturate yourself with information that can enhance your new skills.”


At his Gleneagles home, Nickelback guitarist-songwriter Ryan Peake joined Barney Bentall and others to entertain White Envelope fundraiser guests.

Malcolm Parry /

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REVVED UP: The recent 10th annual Luxury & Supercar Weekend brought more exotic vehicles than ever to VanDusen Botanical Garden. As usual, a previous-evening reception filled Niels and Nancy Bendtsen’s Inform Interiors store.


With much high-end merchandise of their own, Inform Interiors owners Neils and Nancy Bendtsen always host Luxury & Supercar preliminary receptions.

Malcolm Parry /

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Luxury & Supercar Weekend co-organizer Nadia Iadisernia’s ensemble complemented a McLaren 720S Coupe beside Gastown’s Inform Interiors store.

Malcolm Parry /

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Cars inside included the show’s darling, a battery-powered 1,900-horsepower Pininfarina Battista costing around $3.5 million. That would get you a tasty West Vancouver home or, to those fully exploiting the Battista’s mojo, perhaps a visit to crowbar hotel. On the Inform store’s Water Street sidewalk, a 720-horsepower McLaren 720S Coupe was tagged at $401,910. The sky-blue coupe complemented L&S Weekend co-principal Nadia Iadisernia’s Ferrari-red Diane von Furstenberg dress and Ferragamo heels that together cost less than the $1,460 needed for the McLaren’s optional coloured brake calipers.


Danny Jadresko showed his 2,510-horsepower 1964 Pontiac Acadian to Luxury & Supercar Weekend principal Craig Stowe at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Malcolm Parry /

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FANCY DANNY: Parked beside swanky-panky dreamboats on the VanDusen lawn, an Ontario-built Pontiac Acadian cost maybe $3,000 in 1964. Today, having gained a 10.3-litre, twin-turbo engine developing 2,510 horsepower, it could be worth $1 million. That said, not much, if anything, remains of the ho-hum two-door sedan that Victoria-based Danny Jadresko bought in 1983. He and bride Sandy later honeymooned in it. With son Cody, and aided by Quebec-based custom-car builder J.F. Launier, the Jadreskos spent 18 years developing the Acadian into a “street outlaw” that can blow the doors of most European exotics. Meanwhile, their W&J Construction and Woodsmere Holdings firms opened the doors to thousands of single- and multi-unit homes they’d built, including 600 units in Langford that rent for $800 to $1,200 monthly.


Some royalties from school principal David Starr’s Like Joyful Tears, part-edited by wife and vice-principal Sharon, benefit the Obakki Foundation.

Malcolm Parry /

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HOMEWORK: For the principal of Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, David Starr, it entails writing books. His refugee-themed debut work, From Bombs to Books, and its seven successors were aimed at young readers. The latest, Like Joyful Tears, “is my first big-boy book,” Starr said. It has a Canadian woman help a South Sudanese massacre survivor relocate to Canada. Starr’s novel was aided by his own dealings with refugees, and polished by editor-wife Sharon, who is vice-principal at Port Moody Secondary. Partial royalties from it benefit the Obakki Foundation.


A 65_RedRoses film still of the late Eva Markvoort overlooked Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden who lives with transplanted lungs.

Malcolm Parry /

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BREATH AND LIFE: At the Vancouver Playhouse recently, Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji screened, 65_RedRoses, their 2009 film about since-deceased cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort. The fundraising event promoted CF awareness and organ donation. Although the lauded movie wasn’t an Oscar contender, attendees Alison Snowden and David Fine won one for their animated short, Bob’s Birthday, and earned three other Oscar nominations. Like Markvoort, Snowden received donated lungs, but survived. After a virus destroyed her own, Snowden was put into an induced coma for a month and deemed to be too weak for transplant surgery. Business and personal partner Fine said “a breakthrough idea” entailed awakening her and rebuilding strength during non-stop treatment by ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) heart-lung-bypass technology. It worked. Donated lungs arrived, Dr. John Yee undertook the surgery, and Fine and the recovering Snowden completed another Oscar-nominated short, Animal Behaviour. Snowden’s proposed acceptance speech at the February, 2019 Academy Awards ceremony would have praised VGH, her surgical team and Canadian medicine generally. However, the award went to Toronto director-writer Domee Shi’s Bao.


The Sequoia Quartet’s Catherine Teng, Kai Chow, David Han and Davin Mar demonstrated the prowess of VSO School of Music students.

Malcolm Parry /

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BRAVO: The effectiveness of the 16-year-old VSO School of Music was clear when four students performed at Ronald McDonald House recently. Sequoia String Quartet violinists Catherine Teng, 16, and Kai Chow, 15, violist Davin Mar, 14, and cellist David Han, 13, played works by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and others, with intelligence, clarity and youthful confidence.


Wally Buono, here with Moray Keith of a syndicate seeking to buy the B.C. Lions team, will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame.

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FOOTBALL FAME: B.C. Lions fans still sang “Roar, you Lions, roar” in 2003 when Pasquale “Wally” Buono left the Calgary Stampeders to be the local team’s head coach. Roar they did, through five West Division championships, two Grey Cup wins and one loss (2004 to the Toronto Argonauts). After retiring in 2018, Potenza-born Buono will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame Oct. 4 and possibly called “the pride of all B.C.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As we consider electing more parliamentarians with no more authority than pets on a leash, a Scottish high court judge has ruled that parliament’s role in scrutinizing the government is a central pillar of the UK’s constitution, which follows naturally from the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

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8Sep

Province proposal to turn part of Trans Canada Trail to industrial use ‘mind-boggling’

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https://vancouversun.com/


Cyclists ride across a trestle bridge, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.


Handout/Trails Society / PNG

A historic rail trail that was donated to the province by the Trans Canada Trail society could be opened to logging trucks if a government proposal to cancel its trail designation gets the green light, say trail advocates.

The Ministry of Forests is seeking to transfer management of a 67-kilometre portion of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail to unspecified agencies to reflect local interests and support “access for industrial activity,” according to a letter sent to stakeholders soliciting feedback on the plan.

A major logging company holds tenure for several cut blocks near the trail, which runs from Castlegar to Fife, east of Christina Lake.

“It’s mind-boggling that they’re even considering this,” said Ciel Sander, president of Trails Society of B.C. “The trail is a government asset. It should be protected as a linear park, not an access road for logging trucks.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail was donated to the Trans Canada Trail decades ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway for inclusion in the The Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail, a national trail network stretching 24,000 kilometres across the country.

In 2004, the committee transferred the trail to the B.C. government with the “expressed intention that it would be used and managed as a recreational trail,” said Trans Canada Trail vice-president Jérémie Gabourg.


A cyclist on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

While the government’s proposal is clear that recreational access will remain, it marks the first time a group has sought to convert a portion of The Great Trail from a trail to a road in any province or territory.

“Sections of The Great Trail of Canada are on roadways, and we strive to move these sections of the trail to greenways, where possible,” said Gabourg. “To see a trail go from greenway to roadway is disheartening … It could set a dangerous precedent.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects with the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a route that attracts cyclists from around the world. In accepting the trail from the Trans Canada Trail in 2004, the government made a commitment to preserve and protect it from motorized use, said Léon Lebrun, who was involved in the process as past president of Trails Society of B.C.

“We have a government who has not taken real responsibility,” he said. Officials have “turned a blind eye” to motorized users who have graded parts of the trail and removed several bollards designed to prevent access. “They had no permit and no permission, and the government did nothing.”

In its letter to stakeholders, the Ministry of Forests recognized vehicles are already accessing the trail, explaining the proposed administration change would ensure it was being maintained for that use.

“This portion of rail corridor contains engineered structures including steel trestles, hard rock tunnels, major culverts and retaining walls atypical of recreation trails and requiring management beyond typical trail standards,” said the letter by John Hawkins, director of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.


Tracks on the trail, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

But Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said that allowing motorized vehicles would be rewarding people who broke the law.

“While we acknowledge that this change reflects current use, this is clearly the result of years of mismanagement of what was intended as, and should have remained, a high-profile recreation and tourism amenity,” she replied to Hawkins in a letter that was shared with Postmedia.

“Those who have consistently flaunted trail use regulations are now being rewarded … We expect (Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.) to acknowledge this as a tragic failure, and ensure that resources and strategies are in place to prevent further losses of our valued trails.”

Stakeholders were given one month to register their feedback with the Ministry of Forests, ending Aug. 26.

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests said the process is ongoing to receive more information from regional districts. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

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6Sep

Town Talk: Netherlands dance troupe lures Ballet B.C.’s Emily Molnar

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GOING DUTCH: Last year, Netherlands native Otto Tausk succeeded British-born Bramwell Tovey as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s music director. Then, as what the Dutch might call tit voor tat, Nederlands Dans Theater snagged Regina-born Ballet B.C.’s artistic director, Emily Molnar, to lead its 27- and 18-dancer companies. Former Ballet B.C. dancer Molnar has steered the once-moribund company through a decade of break-even-or-better seasons to critical acclaim here and on national and international tours. Addressing dancers, staff, board members and supporters recently, she said: “What we have done together is remarkable.” Then, to rueful smiles all around, “It doesn’t happen easily.” Encouragingly, though, dancers “now have more opportunities to stay at home with full-time or almost full-time work.”

MORE GLOBALISM: Finland native Kari Turunen has succeeded Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Illinois-born founder and 47-year artistic director, Jon Washburn.


Thomas and Amy Fung’s annual garden party and singalong drew corporate, cultural and political guests as well as UBC and SFU’s presidents.

Malcolm Parry /

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SCHOOLS IN: Fairchild Group chairman Thomas Fung and actress-wife Amy usually draw business, professional, political and cultural guests to their annual garden party. This year, with son Joseph having founded the Fairchild Junior Academy in Hong Kong, local educational-facility top brass shared the lawn. They were University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University presidents Santa Ono and Andrew Petter, St. George’s Senior School headmaster Tom Matthews, York House school head Julie Rousseau, and West Point Grey Junior School head Ciara Corcoran. An after-supper singalong fronted by host-guitarist Fung could have been, but wasn’t, conducted by UBC grad Ken Hsieh. Edmonton-born Hsieh founded the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra in 2003 and has been music director ever since with no successor even contemplated.


The Fungs’ garden party saw UBC president Santa Ono chat with grad, global conductor and Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra music director Ken Hsieh.

Malcolm Parry /

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THE YOGI BERA AWARD: Goes to industrial safety trainer Chris Samson for his August quote: “I’m all for taking risks, so long as it’s done safely.” B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena is runner-up for: “I think it’s very good to have a regulated market in the way that we have a regulated market.”


After baby daughter Hadley died in 2018, Nicole and Ryan Stark returned to Ronald McDonald House for the birth of Soren, Clara and Sawyer.

Malcolm Parry /

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THEY’RE LOVIN’ ’EM: Ryan and Nicole Stark were heartbroken in May, 2018, when four-month-old daughter Hadley died. So were staff at 73-bedroom Ronald McDonald House where the Fort St. John family lived while B.C. Children’s Hospital staff fought to save Hadley. Spirits soared this July when three-month resident Nicole delivered daughter Clara along with sons Sawyer and Soren. “Families want normalcy,” said CEO Richard Pass while welcoming the triplets at an RMH donor reception. “That means more stay-together programs for whole families.” The record stay there is 497 days.

BEEP: Phone messages for classic-car minder Vern Bethel are answered promptly. Ones for daughter Pamela can end up on stage. Umpteen 1990s calls to and responses from then-teenaged Bethel constitute her lauded 2017 show, After The Beep, playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s The Nest theatre to Sept. 14. Those dialing 250-885-1285 might even hear themselves in a sequel.


Nina Bentil attended husband and Mile’s End Motors dealer David’s hospitality pavilion and show at Hastings Racecourse’s annual Deighton Cup day.

Malcolm Parry /

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THEY’RE ON: Whatever their luck with horse-race bets, Deighton Cup organizers Dax Droski, Jordan Kalman and Tyson Villeneuve sure pick winning weather. Sunshine bathed Hastings Racecourse when their 11th annual event’s record crowd of nattily attired younger folk enjoyed music, food, champagne, cigars and even some betting. Mile’s End Motors dealer David Bentil’s usual pavilion and tree-shaded compound had guests loll alongside such exotic jalopies as a 2017 Ferrari F12 TDF worth $1.5 million. Quite a change from the vacuum cleaners Bentil sold door-to-door along and near his native East London’s Mile End Road.


Late Vancouver Sun veteran Alex MacGillivray’s daughter Caroline founded and heads BeautyNight that helps marginalized women seek success.

Malcolm Parry /

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R.I.P.: Former Sun editor-restaurant reviewer Alex MacGillivray died recently — no funeral by request — but his name lives on via actress-daughter Caroline who founded non-profit BeautyNight (beautynight.org) in 2000 and has helped endless marginalized women gain confidence, integration and contact-making skills.


Fung party guest Dr. John Yee, who undertakes more than 60 double-lung transplants annually, lamented Eva Markvoort’s 2010 death to cystic fibrosis.

Malcolm Parry /

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BREATH OF LIFE: Guest John Yee wasn’t whisked away from the Fungs’ party to perform another of the 60 double-lung-transplant surgeries he’s undertaken yearly on six hours’ notice. The Sun’s Pamela Fayerman reported that Vancouver General Hospital’s new vivo lung perfusion process allows more precious time to assess donor organs. Dr. Yee still laments cystic-fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort who, despite such surgery, succumbed at age 23 in 2010. Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji’s documentary about Markvoort, 65 RedRoses (that’s how many youngsters pronounce “cystic fibrosis”), will screen at a Vancouver Playhouse gala Sept. 8 to help fund CF research and encourage organ donation.


From left, Nimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall’s 65 RedRoses film about the late Eva Markvoort will have a gala screening Sept. 8 to help fund cystic fibrosis research. This is a 2008 photo. Markvoort died in 2010.

Malcolm Parry /

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Chambar co-owner Nico Schuermans and chef Tia Kambas backed student Jade Sarmiento at an all-female-chef dinner to help fund scholarships.

Malcolm Parry /

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HAPPY FIFTEENTH: To the Belgian-themed Chambar Restaurant Karri and Nico Schuermans opened on Beatty Street and moved next door in 2014. Also to seafood-themed Coast, which Glowbal Restaurant Group president-CEO Emad Yacoub located in Yaletown and upmarketed to Alberni Street in 2009. Chambar recently staged a dinner by five female chefs and same-gender Vancouver Community College students to help fund scholarships. Its anniversary highlight will be an all-invited block party’s pig roast and waffle fest on Sept. 8.


Chambar co-principal Karri Schuermans will host the Belgian-themed restaurant’s 15th-anniversary block party, pig roast and waffle fest Sept. 8.

Malcolm Parry /

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Late French president Charles de Gaulle, whose vetoes made petitioning Britons wait 12 years to join what is now the European Union, might relish their current opera bouffe to get out.

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5Sep

B.C. government expands biosimilar drug program to Crohn’s, colitis patients

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https://vancouversun.com/


B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix in a file photo.


Francis Georgian / PNG

The British Columbia government says it’s expanding its substitute drug program to include 1,700 patients with diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says biosimilars, which are cheaper alternatives to name-brand drugs, have worked well in other countries and the province will be saving about $96.6 million to be put back into health care over three years.

Biosimilars are highly similar versions of bioengineered drugs known as biologics, and there are 17 such products approved for sale in Canada.

Bioengineered medicine is the single biggest expense for public drug plans; in 2018, B.C. spent $125 million to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

In January, the province made a three-year, $105-million investment to help low-income British Columbians get access to the drugs.

The initial program announced in May saw over 20,000 British Columbians move their prescription from the biologic to biosimilar drugs.

2Sep

UBC ramps up mental health services as students go back to school

by admin


The University of B.C. has been steadily increasing its mental health services to meet growing demand. One of its initiatives is the Wellness Centre, which is staffed by trained student volunteers.


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With thousands of students heading back to school this year, the University of British Columbia is ramping up its mental health services to meet a spike in demand that’s also hitting other post-secondary institutions across Canada.

UBC’s Vancouver campus has been steadily increasing free mental health services for students since 2015, investing $2.5 million annually in providing counsellors, boosting programs and diversifying services.

“UBC is very similar to campuses across Canada in that we are seeing increased demand for mental health services, which is why the university has invested in many ways,” said Patty Hambler, director of health promotion and education at UBC Student Services.


Patty Hambler, director of health promotion and education at UBC Student Services.

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According to U.S. research firm Education Advisory Board, 13 Canadian post-secondary institutions across the country have seen a 35 per cent increase in counselling appointments between 2011 and 2015.

Last year, 28,069 UBC students accessed mental health professional support, which could include physicians, counsellors, mental health nurses or psychiatrists) at the Point Grey campus — almost half its approximately 55,000 student population. An additional 4,669 students sought help through Empower Me, a 24/7 helpline at UBC that connects students to counsellors.

Experts say there could be many factors behind the increase in demand, such as increased awareness of mental health and well-being; reduced stigma; the proliferation of social media, which has been linked to negative effects on mental health; or a more competitive and uncertain job market and financial stresses.

In recent years, the university also focused on improving mental health services for the nearly 12,000 students who live on campus, adding counsellors to residences and boosting health education programming at dorms.

Working with faculty members, it also introduced a pilot project for second-year mechanical engineering students to bring mental health literacy into the classroom. Similar initiatives are being adapted by other departments, including nursing and biology.

Over the past two years, UBC added mental health nurses and a nurse practitioner at the student health service centre, which operates out of UBC Hospital, though the service is provided by the university, not by the local health authority.

These programs are in addition to existing services, which include the Wellness Centre, which is staffed by wellness peers, and the Empower Me helpline, which is offered in multiple languages.

“Ultimately, the goal is to increase access for students and diversify what we offer, so there’s different entry points for students to access,” said Hambler.


The University of B.C.’s Wellness Centre is one of many mental health services offered to students.

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Some students may find it challenging to adjust during their first year in university, so UBC tries to prepare incoming students for the different learning environment with its Jump Start orientation program, which helps freshmen make friends, build connections across the university community and become aware of resources and services available on campus.

“We’re really encouraging students to be proactive about their health,” said Hambler. “If they can build up resilience and focus on eating well, and getting enough sleep, then they can take on those challenges a bit better.”

Last year, Simon Fraser University launched a 24/7 mental health and support service that can be accessed through a phone or app to meet growing demand among its students.

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