Sur­geon re­mod­els ser­vice

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT -

Nel­son Hos­pi­tal’s new vas­cu­lar sur­geon has helped to cre­ate a re­gional ser­vice to pro­vide bet­ter care for those need­ing treat­ment for blocked ar­ter­ies and aneurysms.

Dr Car­men Ruiz moved to New Zealand from Scot­land where she worked as a vas­cu­lar sur­geon for close to 20 years.

Prior to her ar­rival, the vas­cu­lar sur­geon role at Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health had been va­cant for 18 months, dur­ing which time the health board had spent more than $2m send­ing pa­tients out­side the re­gion for treat­ment.

Since her ar­rival, Ruiz has been in­flu­en­tial in set­ting up a re­gional vas­cu­lar ser­vice be­tween Christchurch and the top of the south.

Vas­cu­lar surgery in­volves the treat­ment of ar­ter­ies and veins and Ruiz said the ma­jor­ity of her work­load in­volved deal­ing with peo­ple who had block­ages or nar­row­ing of the ar­ter­ies, or aneurysms which was the re­sult of the artery be­ing too large.

She reg­u­larly treated peo­ple with ve­nous ul­cers and aneurysms, mostly around the ab­dom­i­nal area and in the legs.

Ruiz said vas­cu­lar surgery was a com­plex spe­cial­ity that had changed sig­nif­i­cantly in the last 15 years.

What was pre­vi­ously done through open surgery, could now be fixed with en­dovas­cu­lar surgery, which was min­i­mally in­va­sive and sim­i­lar to key­hole surgery.

The re­gion­alised ser­vice meant that while Ruiz was based in Nel­son, she con­sulted with Christchurch sur­geons on in­di­vid­ual cases and would travel to Christchurch ev­ery 10 weeks to spend a week work­ing on call.

Un­der the agree­ment, pa­tients who needed ur­gent vas­cu­lar treat­ment af­ter hours were sent to Christchurch and would then re­turn to Nel­son for fol­low up care with Ruiz.

It was not cost ef­fec­tive for smaller DHBs to pro­vide some spe­cialised ser­vices, and spe­cial­ists also needed to spend time work­ing at the top of their scope in larger hos­pi­tals.

The health board would still have to cover the cost of pa­tient travel to Christchurch for those acute cases, but he ex­pected the over­all costs of travel for vas­cu­lar pro­ce­dures to reduce sig­nif­i­cantly.

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