Kootenay Lake Hospital won’t have a resident ophthalmologist when Neville Maytom retires at the end of February. File photo

Kootenay Lake Hospital won’t have a resident ophthalmologist when Neville Maytom retires at the end of February. File photo

Nelson’s only ophthalmologist to retire in February

Dr. Neville Maytom says Interior Health has no plans to replace him

Nelson’s only ophthalmologist is about to retire, and the Interior Health Authority has no plans to replace him.

Neville Maytom, who has practised in the West Kootenay for 30 years, said in a letter to patients dated Sept. 27 that he intends to retire at the end of February.

In the letter, which is attached to the end of this story, Maytom writes about his concerns that his position won’t be filled even though someone has expressed interesting in taking over his practice.

“It has been clear to me over the period of my career that there is enough work for three ophthalmologists in the West Kootenay, and many of these patients are from Nelson and communities north of here as far as Nakusp and Meadow Creek.”

Maytom declined to comment further when contacted by the Star.

Ophthalmology is the school of medicine focused on eye disorders and treatment including surgery.

Maytom added in his letter there is also currently no after-hours emergency surgery available at Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital for ophthalmology patients.

A spokesperson for Interior Health said in a statement they are exploring opportunities to have their two ophthalmologists in Trail provide services in Nelson, and that surgical ophthalmology services will still be provided at Kootenay Lake Hospital.

“Two ophthalmologists in Trail are able to see patients from across the Kootenay Boundary and the new ophthalmologist in Trail is accepting referrals,” the statement said.

“There is currently a minimal wait to get in to see an ophthalmologist in the Kootenay Boundary.”

Winlaw resident Kurt Hilger is concerned that could change once Maytom retires.

Hilger has been one of Maytom’s patients for his entire tenure in Nelson, and says the doctor has always been immediately available in an emergency.

“He puts everything aside to see me,” said Hilger.

Hilger has already written to Interior Health expressing his concerns about the lack of an ophthalmology replacement in Nelson. He recalls one year when neither Maytom nor the two ophthalmologists were available for an emergency call.

“The doctors in the emergency room, basically they told me what I already knew but they couldn’t do a thing. They said, ‘Oh, drive to Kelowna.’ Well, yeah, I can barely see. I’m going to drive to Kelowna in the middle of winter over the Paulson?”

Hilger ended up flying to Vancouver for treatment.

“The point is if there are only two ophthalmologists, how many more times is there going to be no ophthalmologist available?”

Maytom’s impending retirement has also caught the attention of new Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, who said in a statement Wednesday that although it is a provincial matter he agrees with Maytom’s concerns.

Related:

LETTER: IHA won’t replace retiring Nelson ophthalmologist



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Nelson’s only ophthalmologist to retire in February

Just Posted

Firesmart activities will be happening this week on city-owned forested land. File photo
Firesmart activities to take place this week on Castlegar’s 14th Ave.

City and Selkirk College Forestry program working together on project

The Interior Health COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Six new COVID cases in Castlegar last week

The Kootenay Boundary is seeing a rise in COVID cases

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read