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BC IMPACT E-Newsletter
December 2017

BC IMPACT E-Newsletter-December 2017

In this edition you will find:




A Fellow on the Road

Dr. Fergus To

Dr. Fergus To is a rheumatology Fellow based in Vancouver, who recently had the opportunity to expand his training as part of a new Fellowship Rotation Program available through the Arthritis Society. In smaller communities across the province, it is a reality that access to care is a major issue. More often than not, there are only one or two rheumatologists in a geographic region, making it very difficult for people to get the care, treatment and diagnosis they need, as waitlists are usually very long. To help address this, the Fellowship Rotation Program was developed to create opportunities for Fellows to visit underserved communities in British Columbia, and learn more about rheumatology practice in that area.

Fergus seized the chance, and was the first to take part. It all came together very quickly. "Drs. Siegel and Godin gave rounds in Spring of this year in Vancouver. They talked about this new program, and I got in touch - the opportunity was there. One week later, it was approved." Fergus suggested his dates and was soon on his way to Kelowna to do a shared rotation between Drs. Siegel and Godin in Kelowna, and with Dr. Teo in Penticton. This exciting new program was made possible with support and an innovative sponsorship from Celgene. It all led to what Fergus refers to as "…amongst the best weeks I have had in my rheumatology training."

Once in Kelowna, Fergus was welcomed not only by the doctors, but also by the administration and supporting staff at the hospital. Everything was set up for him immediately – identification, passwords, login information etc. - with the hospital administrator personally taking him around to make introductions.

Fergus spent a total of four weeks in Kelowna. He spent most of the rotation with Drs. Siegel and Godin, and every Thursday with Dr. Teo in Penticton - and Fergus loved it. While it was important for him to see as many patients as possible as part of his training, Dr. Siegel also ensured that Fergus would also do the follow-up appointments for the same patients so he could see them again to review their progress. This was great experience for Fergus, and also meant that patients were able to see a doctor for their follow-up appointments much faster.

During his four weeks, Fergus estimates that he saw 120 patients, many of which were his own follow-up appointments. There was also the opportunity for a hospital consult component, and Fergus was able to see other patients in the hospital while on call.

Fergus shares, "through working with these three doctors, I learned how three rheumatologists at different states of their careers manage busy clinical practices. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Teo's unique model of care in Penticton which sees a high volume of inflammatory cases daily. It was eye-opening." Through her model of care, Dr. Teo is able to see more patients in the busy, underserved area of Penticton and surround.

Better patient care is always the goal, and Fergus' presence in these two communities definitely had a positive impact. In addition to that, Fergus had the opportunity to work with three different doctors, allowing him to expand his knowledge and skills as they exposed him to a wider breadth of diagnoses and rarer conditions. Further, the very foundation of the Fellows Rotation Program is to expose Fellows to experience in a remote and underserved community. The hope is that this will raise their interest in the community and the possibility of setting up their own practice outside the Lower Mainland. This would ultimately lead to improved patient care in the province.

Fergus expressed interest in living in Kelowna at some point, saying, "I would definitely be open to that at the right time, and I am certainly interested in working there as a locum in the foreseeable future if the opportunity arises.

"I had a fantastic time with Drs. Siegel, Godin and Teo. They hand selected cases that were generally quite complex, challenging my clinical reasoning and skills. Because of the higher patient to doctor ratios in these communities, I saw more patients than I typically do in the larger metropolitan communities – a valuable part of any training program."

Fergus has high praise for the overall experience. "These were three different styles of practice, all very busy. There were things you liked and learned from each practice. I would recommend the Fellows Rotation Program to all Fellows. I want to thank the physicians who mentored me, and the Arthritis Society for this opportunity. I strongly encourage my fellow trainees to spend a few weeks in a similar community, as I have found this to be an immensely valuable experience that exposed me to the unique aspects of working outside the Lower Mainland."

And thank you, Fergus, for blazing the trail and being such an ambassador for the Fellows Rotation Program, and most importantly, for making a difference in the lives of people with arthritis.

Road trip, anyone?



Go All-in!

All in for arthritis gala

What better way to kick off the holiday season than with tickets to an event that will help children living with arthritis?

The All-in for Arthritis Gala is just around the corner! Presented by Scotiabank, this much anticipated event is on February 1, 2018, and will be at the beautiful Terminal City Club. CBC's Fred Lee and Margaret Gallagher will be your emcees, and proceeds from this lively, casino-style event will fund important research that will help stop childhood arthritis in its tracks. Research into personalized medicine will lead to better outcomes for kids with this disease, and make growing up without arthritis a reality.

We are introducing an Alice in Wonderland theme, and BC Place is getting in on the spirit of things too, by lighting up in blue on the night of this event! So join us for the fun, and play a hand for the kids! Or if you need an idea for the perfect holiday gift, what about tickets for you and your favourite person to an exciting night out at a meaningful event? At the All-in for Arthritis Gala, you will experience extraordinary food and beverages, and an intriguing ambience with many unique and spirited opportunities to explore including our mystery balloons and legendary silent auction!

You don't need to be an expert in the casino - your adventurous spirit is enough! All games are played with funny money so you can try your luck at all the tables!

Tickets are available now! To purchase tickets or learn more visit

Please join us for a memorable night as we gather to play for this very important cause - in support of kids living with arthritis.



Navigating Arthritis Care on Vancouver Island

Navigating Arthritis Care

Living on the Island? You and your loved ones are invited to be a part of our upcoming Arthritis Connects Symposium in Victoria this January. Called Navigation of Arthritis Care on Vancouver Island, this event has been carefully designed to deliver relevant, meaningful information to people living with arthritis and their loved ones, and to provide a space for dialogue and connection on arthritis issues.

This unique symposium has been directly shaped by the needs and requests expressed by people in the arthritis community and their loved ones. We are very pleased to bring the Arthritis Connects Symposium to Victoria on January 27, 2018. Attendance is FREE for everyone. A multitude of sponsors are making this possible, with Abbvie leading the way.

With a panel of medical and allied healthcare professionals, the Arthritis Connects Symposium aims to engage with the audience through presentations, discussion and a question and answer session. Panelists include rheumatologist Dr. John Watterson, physiotherapist Michael Pohlman and RN Patricia Orme, both with the Mary Pack Arthritis Program in Victoria, as well as naturopathic physician Dr. Leah Hassall with Sage Clinic. Executive Director for the Arthritis Society, BC & Yukon Division, Christine Basque, will also be part of this dynamic panel. Topics that will be covered include discussion around arthritis types, warning signs, treatments, coverage, referral for care, self-management techniques, medication and nutrition, as well as naturopathic medicine and how it may be helpful for people living with arthritis.

Everyone attending is welcome to get involved in the conversation and to raise their specific questions during the question and answer period following the presentation. Together we aim to address community specific arthritis issues with the goal of helping people improve their knowledge of arthritis symptoms, treatment and management, as well as community-based resources. The symposium is also an excellent way to connect and socialize with others living with similar conditions.

Navigation of Arthritis Care on Vancouver Island through the Arthritis Connects Symposium series is taking place on January 27, 2018, from 2:00-4:30pm at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas Street in Victoria. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Please call 1.866.414.7766 or email For more information, please visit



Two Sisters, One Disease

Samantha and Olivia

What does family mean to you? For many, family means shared experiences and memories that become part of the fabric that comforts and shelters us. We can reflect with gratitude about family who have been with us in times of joy, and there to lean on when things became difficult.

This is especially true for two young sisters, Samantha and Olivia, who discovered that they had a bond that no one could have predicted.

They found out that they both had arthritis – a disease that would change both of their lives.

Samantha Kampman grew up in Vernon, BC and enjoyed a very active lifestyle with her parents and two sisters. The oldest of the girls, her life shifted when pain started at age 16 and her hands and wrists became swollen, and recalls, "and then just about every other joint in my body, leaving me essentially unable to get out of bed. Rashes and psoriasis appeared in the following weeks." Samantha was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at 17. With the help of a rheumatologist, treatment began, and Samantha describes the entire process as devastating. "I went from being an active teenager to being tired and in pain. I couldn't exercise and gained weight. I was depressed. The medications weren't working and I wasn't managing. It was the lowest point in my life."

Medications, side effects and the chronic pain were challenging, and plans to go to university became more complicated. She knew it would be difficult living away from home and going to school while struggling with the pain and effects of her disease. Going to university while living in constant pain became her reality. There were also social challenges. "My friends didn't get it, they didn't believe me. It's an invisible illness and people don't understand," she shares. And deciding a career path wasn't easy, "my arthritis was on my mind when choosing a career… I constantly wondered what will I be able to do?"

Olivia is seven years younger than Samantha, and the baby of the family. She remembers vividly when her sister was diagnosed with arthritis. Knowing that members of her extended family had various forms of arthritis, and now her big sister, she often wondered, "what am I going to get?" It was a heavy thought for a 10 year old.

"I remember seeing Samantha in incredible pain, and how down she was. It got worse when she went away to university. I remember her crying on the phone with our mom because she was in so much pain. I worried about her. And our middle sister was born with some serious health challenges, and I just felt so bad for our parents - they had so much to deal with.

"I was the 'healthy one'", tells Olivia, "and had been a dancer since age 4. But I started to think 'what is going to happen to me'? I was waiting for the other shoe to drop."

And it did. Olivia was 14 when both of her feet became incredibly sore, and it couldn't be explained away due to her dance lessons. "I spoke up right away to my parents, and I knew what to expect. Arthritis. I was prepared to hear that word, knowing what had happened to Sam." Olivia started seeing a pediatric rheumatologist at age 15. Medications and treatments began immediately.

"Dancing got harder, but I was determined to continue. Socially it was really hard, because lots of kids didn't understand and thought I was faking it. I reached a low point with dancing…there was an incident. A bunch of girls made insensitive comments, saying I was making it up. It is hard to explain when people can't see it – I got used to people doubting me."

Except for each other, neither Samantha nor Olivia had ever met anyone else their age with arthritis. Samantha shares that she was, "relieved to have someone who could relate to my struggles, but why my baby sister?

"My sister is still on some tough medication, and I worry about her. I wonder about what the future holds for both of us – so much is unknown. We need those questions answered. Liv was thinking of applying to the RCMP, but doesn't know if she will be able to pass the physical requirements because of her arthritis."

Now a practicing lawyer, Samantha says, "I still go through a grieving process every time I have a flare. It takes me right back to the beginning."

And she often contemplates, "…what about having kids? And my sister…she's 20…what kind of career can she choose? We have to adjust our hopes and aspirations because of this disease because it has taken options away from us."

Both of these incredibly strong young women have had to face difficult and unfair realities. And both sisters worry for each other and themselves in the shadow of the unknown.

Arthritis creates many questions that can only be answered with a cure.

You can be a part of the solution for people living with arthritis by making a donation to The Arthritis Society today. Your gift can make a world of difference as we invest in research to improve treatments and find a cure to this debilitating disease. Samantha and Olivia have their whole future ahead of them, and working together, we can make it a bright one. Thank you for reading their story.



Construction begins along West 10th Medical Corridor in Vancouver

West 10th Medical Corridor in Vancouver

For anyone visiting the medical corridor along West 10th in Vancouver over the next six months, you will notice the construction. The City is making improvements to the road, sidewalk, bike lane and general area. As a result, driving, parking, access to sidewalks and driveways, as well as pedestrian traffic will be affected. Construction will be from Oak to Cambie, so you may want to plan ahead for your visit as there will likely be increased congestion.

Traffic controllers will be available to assist and escort pedestrians and drivers to their destinations, and to help coordinate parking. Maps and flyers of the construction plan are available at our building, and posters are up in the area to help with wayfinding. For more information, please visit: