Treatment using VAC (vacuum-assisted closure) therapy is available on an individual-use basis at the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre in Burns Lake while wider scale use is still under consideration.
There are staff at the hospital with the appropriate training to apply the VAC treatment and “doctors may prescribe this treatment for patients for whom they deem it appropriate,” Northern Health spokeswoman Eryn Collins told Lakes District News.
A Burns Lake resident in late February received VAC treatment at the Lakes District Hospital for a festering wound.
This type of therapy involves placing a dressing over an infected wound while a pump machine creates a vacuum that disinfects the wound and helps it heal faster.
The individual-use units differ from the larger, multi-use units in their size and cost. The smaller ones are portable and are applied by a care provider and worn by the patient until the treatment is done.
Patients also don’t stay in the hospital when receiving single-use VAC treatment, Collins said.
“[The] cost of a seven-day kit is approximately $656 (comes with two canisters, three dressings and the unit). For a six week course of treatment, the cost of the unit, canisters and dressings would be approximately $4,000,” she explained.
The larger units, capable of treating several patients cost around $22,000 each and are available in hospitals in Prince George, Quesnel, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Prince Rupert and Terrace, but not in Burns Lake.
The unavailability of those units in this area is part of the reason why resident Brian Hanson has had to take several trips to Kelowna to receive wound treatment.
Although Lakes District News has been told there are several people in the village who could benefit from regular availability of VAC therapy here, Northern Health said demand is just one factor in its calculation of providing certain services.
It also considers how health care staff can keep up their skills.
“One consideration is what type of need and demand there is in the community to use it and maintain their competency. It has to be often enough that they can maintain their competency,” Collins said.
Northern Health has been weighing the possibility of providing multi-use VAC units in Burns Lake for several months.