Ottawa Hospital cut “unfortunate” for bowel disease patients

The Ottawa Hospital’s Riverside Campus.
Photo provided by Wikipedia Commons.

A recent decision by the Ottawa Hospital to close an endoscopy clinic in 2013 has local bowel disease advocacy groups worried about access to necessary regular services.

The hospital’s Riverside Campus clinic – which performs 6,000 procedures every year, according to the hospital – will be closing to save about $1 million. Of the 6,000 endoscopies, 4,000 are colonoscopies.

Sherry Pang, an Eastern Ontario representative for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, said that the decision to close the endoscopy clinic was “unfortunate.”

She said that people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease and colitis, regularly rely on colonoscopies to treat their chronic illnesses.

“This is a big part of our ongoing treatment and diagnosis, so it will definitely have an impact on people in Ottawa and the surrounding areas,” she said.

Sufferers of IBD experience inflamed and ulcerated intestines, which can result in symptoms such as frequent vomiting, diarrhea and rectal bleeding.

The hospital said in a statement that most of the procedures performed each year at the Riverside Campus are for primary care – meaning for less serious ailments – as opposed to acute care.

Pang, who’s fought Crohn’s disease since high school, said that the CCFC recently released a report showing that the number of Canadians living with IBD has risen this year to about 233,000, compared to 201,000 four years ago.

“At a time when we’ve released the Impact of IBD report that shows an increase in the number of people living with the disease, to see that one of our key services is decreasing is really disappointing,” she said.

The hospital said in its statement that private community clinics will be expected to absorb the brunt of the cut. The hospital’s Civic and General locations will continue to serve patients with more serious issues.

But Pang said 6,000 fewer endoscopies, many being colonoscopies, being performed by the Riverside clinic will further slow the time it takes to diagnose people suffering from IBD.

“It has to have a huge impact on wait times,” she said.

Kourtney Hall, president of the Carleton University IBD Support Group, said in an email Tuesday that IBD patients who aren’t in the medical system yet might be most hurt by the closure.

“For those who are not diagnosed, it will probably add an even longer time than there already is of suffering without answers as they wait for these appointments,” she said.

Jennifer Browse, another member of the Carleton students’ support group, agreed with Hall.

“People are going to have to wait even longer to get diagnosed or checked up, which can cause further damage to tissue due to late diagnosis,” she said in an email.

Hall, a sufferer of Crohn’s disease, said that the illness can’t be fully diagnosed without a colonoscopy. After she was diagnosed, she then needed a second colonoscopy to make sure her newly-prescribed medication was working.

She also said that because of the area affected by her Crohn’s, once she’s 30 years old, she will need a colonoscopy every year to check for colon cancer.

Pang pointed out that IBD takes an emotional toll on patients as well – especially on those who haven’t been diagnosed yet.

“You’re dealing with the symptoms and can’t treat it,” she said. “In the workplace, what do you tell your employer when you’re constantly sick, but can’t say why?”

For Hall, the cut represents a bigger issue for those living with bowel diseases. “I find that IBD awareness is minimal to begin with,” she said.

“(The closure) supports my theory that we seem to not have as much support compared to those suffering from other medical disabilities.”

Tags:

Categories: Health news, Latest News, Medicine, Public health

Author:Emma Loop

Digital journalist.

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