Dr. Pierre Faber, who recently retired after a landmark career at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, is shown conducting cataract surgery using a surgical microscope funded through donations.

A peek inside MSJ, where BC’s most complex eye procedures are performed

September 19th, 2017

The increasing need for eye surgeries at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, especially cataract surgery, is a reflection of our aging population and the impact it is having on our health care system, especially Baby Boomers, who represent the largest generation in history and whose oldest members are now in their seventies.

This dynamic also casts new light on the importance of donations to St. Paul’s Foundation, which raises money for all Providence Health Care hospitals and residences, including MSJ.

Dr. Pierre Faber, now retired but formerly the head of the Department of Ophthalmology for PHC and a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia, saw many times the role that philanthropy plays, including the purchase of a new surgical microscope for MSJ, the cost of which was $112,000, that was bought by a grateful patient.

“I can say with confidence that at some point in time, you or a loved one will need our services,” said Dr. Faber. “We’re grateful to donors who make that experience even better through support for crucial technology like the surgical microscope.”

In addition to state-of-the-art optics that enable the most complex procedures, the ophthalmology team’s microscope has special features for teaching that allow surgeon and student to work together. This technological advancement further enhances MSJ’s role as a centre of learning, with more than half of the residents in the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences program at UBC receiving their training here.

The microscope will also mean shorter surgery times for patients as well as potentially shorter wait times.

Donations continue to have an impact at MSJ

Charitable gifts have now brought two new ophthalmic microscopes to MSJ, along with specialized laser treatment systems for retinal surgery. Providing surgeons with the latest technology is a reason why MSJ Ophthalmology is a centre for excellence.

It’s also a tribute to the caring, concern and generosity of the community, one member of which is Arnold Silber, who, along with his wife, Anita, made the gift that brought the new microscope to MSJ.

“My experience at Mount Saint Joseph was amazing,” says Mr. Silber today. “I felt like I was the doctor’s only patient—his most important patient.”

Mr. Silber, a wearer of glasses since childhood, had been experiencing pain and blurred vision when he was referred to MSJ, where it was found that complications from a previous eye surgery were part of the problem. With the vision in one of his eyes at risk, a surgery was performed immediately.

Altogether, Mr. Silber had a restorative surgery performed on his left eye and a cataract surgery to correct the vision in his right eye.

“It’s like a new life for me,” says Mr. Silber, of his improved vision.

As a show of affection, the surgical team at MSJ has nicknamed the laser treatment system bought thanks to a gift from Arnold and Anita Silber, “the Arnie.”

“As an experienced elder, we have to show the younger generations how to give back,” says Mr. Silber, on behalf of himself and his wife. “Giving is very gratifying. We’re happy we could be a part of the solution to help others. That’s important to us.”

To join Arnold and Anita Silber and many others who support eye care at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, give now to St. Paul’s Foundation.