July 07, 2016 - 7:23 AM
OKANAGAN - The lobby in the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre (IHSC) will be named the Dr. Richard Hooper IHSC Lobby, in recognition of Dr. Hooper’s vision and significant contributions to Interior Health (IH) over the past 20 years.
“For 26 years, Dr. Hooper has been one of the driving forces behind the expansion of health care services in the Okanagan,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “His legacy is much more than the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre – it’s the thousands of individuals who will receive care closer to home.”
“Dr. Hooper’s passion to help others and his desire to bring care closer to the residents of the south and central Interior were instrumental in helping create the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. “It’s been an honour to work with Dr. Hooper over the years as a public servant and as a friend.”
“I’d like to congratulate and thank Dr. Hooper for his commitment to patients, not just in the Okanagan, but across British Columbia,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. “Thanks in part to Dr. Hooper’s hard work and passion for improved health care, around a thousand coronary angioplasty and surgery procedures are performed in Kelowna each year.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that Kelowna would not have interventional cardiac services without the tenacious commitment of Dr. Richard Hooper,” said Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) Ambulatory Care Department Head Dr. Sandy Nash. “He is very worthy of this special honour.”
Dr. Hooper was born and raised in Vancouver, where he also attended medical school at the University of British Columbia. After completing his residency training in internal medicine and cardiology at McGill University in Montreal, Dr. Hooper returned to Vancouver to join the cardiology department at St. Paul’s Hospital.
It did not take long for Dr. Hooper to become aware that patients from rural locations in the B.C.’s south and central Interior needed improved access to cardiac services closer to where they called home.
“I remember working in the cardiology department at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and our rural patients were waiting far too long to get here for treatment,” said Dr. Hooper. “Unfortunately, some of those patients not only suffered; some of them died while waiting. I knew something needed to change.”
In the summer of 1990, Dr. Hooper left St. Paul’s Hospital and moved to Kelowna, with the intent of bringing the cardiology programs used in the Lower Mainland to the B.C. Interior.
With the support of his wife and their five children, Dr. Hooper began advocating to all levels of government for the creation of a more comprehensive cardiac centre in the Okanagan and to open a cardiac transition program for IH.
In 2009, nearly 20 years after arriving in the Okanagan, Dr. Hooper’s efforts paid off when KGH became the first hospital outside of the Lower Mainland and Victoria to perform percutaneous coronary interventions, or angioplasties.
In 2012, other breakthroughs occurred, as construction began on the IHSC at the KGH campus and the first open heart surgery procedure was completed at Kelowna General on Dec. 3.
“On behalf of Interior Health, I’d like to thank Dr. Hooper for his many service contributions,” said Interior Health Board Chair Erwin Malzer. “Interior Health’s cardiac programs have saved thousands of lives to date thanks to the efforts of dedicated, compassionate and hardworking physicians like Dr. Hooper.”
The naming ceremony, attended by elected officials, provincial delegates, health-care officials and hospital physicians and staff members, took place this afternoon in the IHSC at KGH.
Interior Health is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and providing a wide range of quality health-care services to more than 731,000 people living across B.C.’s vast interior. For more information, visit the Interior Health website.
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