New cardiac outpatient clinic to open in Kamloops this fall

A Rapid Access Cardiac Exam clinic is set to open this fall in Kamloops, only the second clinic of its kind in B.C.'s Interior.

"The RACE clinic that we're putting in place will really help support those individuals who are in the early stages of a cardiac condition to be able to live better and healthier lives," said Heather Cook, executive director of acute services for Interior Health West.

The RACE clinic will be an outpatient clinic and is not meant for people experiencing a heart attack or other acute symptoms that require hospital care, but for people with existing heart conditions who need help managing them, Cook says.  

"It means that individuals, when they're first diagnosed with cardiac issues, can have high-end service to support them with their cardiac condition," Cook said.

It will be located in the Clinical Services Building, which just opened in 2016, at Royal Inland Hospital.

Interior Health says patients will require a referral from a family doctor to access the specialists in the RACE clinic.

Previously, residents of B.C.'s Interior have had to travel to Kelowna, Vancouver, or in some cases, Alberta, to receive outpatient care, Cook says. In addition, most cardiology service have only been offered to people in inpatient care. 

Cook says that until recently, there have been just two cardiologists serving Kamloops and the surrounding area. There are now four cardiologists working in Kamloops and by the end of the summer Interior Health hopes to have six cardiologists in total.

Along with the six cardiologists, Cook says the clinic will also have nurses specially trained in cardiac conditions and treatment and a pharmacist.

While this story comes shortly after the death of a Kamloops doctor in the Royal Inland Hospital emergency waiting room, the planning for this clinic has been underway for a few years.

"That planning and the work to get there has taken quite a bit of time," said Interior Health's director of media relations Darshan Lindsay.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops