Letter: Burnaby medical staff rescued my sight. I'm so thankful


I arrived back home from a great vacation with our family in Mexico when the next day I was seeing large black floaters in my right eye. 

I went to a walk-in clinic and saw a doctor who wasn’t overly concerned, but said he would book me an appointment with an eye specialist.  

I never made it to that appointment because the next day I lost 75% of vision in that eye.

Off to Burnaby Hospital ER we go… 

At about 4 p.m., this ER is usually a complete zoo, especially at this time of year. I got registered and then settled in for the long wait. But, to my surprise, in only 35 to 40 minutes I was in the eye emergency room. The nurse told me I had been bumped to the top of the list because of the type of injury.  

Within minutes, the ER doctor examined me to the best of his abilities and then told me I needed to see an ophthalmologist. This is now 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. The doctor said he would call and see if anyone would be available to see me tonight. He also warned us that it might have to wait until Sunday, but told us to “Sit tight and I will see what I can do.”

After less than an hour, a man came walking in wearing street clothes. He introduced himself as Dr. Dhaliwal, an ophthalmologist. He immediately did an inspection of my eye and within minutes told me that my eye was hemorrhaging and I needed to see a retina specialist. Dr. Dhaliwal told us to hold on while he made some more calls.

After another 30 minutes, he came back and said he couldn’t get a hold of anyone but he left messages. He also said not to worry as someone will call back to the ER eventually and, wow, by 7:30 p.m. we were sent to a private medical office in Metrotown to meet up with the retina specialist Dr. R. Dennis Bhui at 8:15 p.m.

Bhui looked at my eye and confirmed a large tear and hemorrhage and he did his best to repair the damaged eye with a laser but he was not very pleased as there was too much blood and he couldn't tell if he got it all. 

We left his office at 10:30 p.m. to come home. He wanted to see me the next day so I was squeezed into his busy office schedule. The next day there was some improvement in the eye but not enough to satisfy Bhui. He asked me to go back to the hospital the following day as he was in surgeries there all day and would fit me in between them. Once again, I got checked into the emergency room to wait for Bhui.

Within an hour I was being examined again. Amazing. This time the hemorrhaging had cleared enough for him to get a better look at the damaged eye. He decided I needed emergency surgery. I was prepped for surgery by the very busy ER personnel and before I knew it, I was on a bed being sent up to an operating room. The surgery went well and I walked out of the hospital at 5 p.m.

The point of this story is to say just how well I was treated by everyone. People are always complaining about our medical system and sometimes for good reason. 

For me, every time I have been at the Burnaby Hospital ERthey have been great. You may have to wait a very long time but once you see a doctor they do their utmost to help you solve your problem.  

I would like to thank all the staff and the ER doctor who helped me out that night.

Our health-care system may not be perfect but it is far better than most other places in this world.

Glen Atkinson, Burnaby

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