Many elders walked away from the 40th BC Elders Gathering in Williams Lake knowing more about their liver wellness.
That’s because Three Corners Health Services Society (TCHSS) offered free liver scans during the gathering.
“We brought in new technology and an operator from Ontario,” said Lori Sellars, executive director with TCHSS.
”The equipment is easily portable and is about the size of a computer printer.”
Three clinics were hosted by Three Corners on Tuesday, July 12, where approximately 65 people had liver scans completed.
Part of the problem, Sellars noted, is that wait times and access to liver scans in B.C., can take months and private assessments cost hundreds of dollars.
“The examination takes 10 minutes and the results can be interpreted by a doctor at a separate appointment according to the result and any diagnosis.”
Recently Three Corners has been developing a wellness approach to liver health and is part of a world-wide program to eliminate viral hepatitis called No Hep (http://www.nohep.org/)
Ten years ago, the Canadian Liver Foundation found that one in 10 Canadians were at risk for liver disease.
Today that number is one in four because of the many risks such as the prevalent rates for hepatitis B and children’s liver diseases and liver cancer and more.
The Canadian Liver Foundation found after a review of current liver disease data that as much as 20 per cent of the Canadian population has fat build-up in their livers.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD is a term used for the condition that varies in severity from simple fat accumulation with no inflammation to its most advanced stage that involves inflammation and damage.
From this advanced stage, a person can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
The Three Corners Society recognizes a high fat and calorie diet including sugars and processed foods can lead to excess fat being stored in the liver.
“The good news is that fatty liver disease can often be prevented, or even reversed if it is detected before permanent liver damage has occurred,” said Dr. Yoshida, Gastroenterology Specialist from Vancouver.
Liver scanning is something that is usually offered after someone has symptoms of disease, which is why Three Corners is taking a proactive approach.
The Elders Gathering provided a platform to engage the elderly population to access screening for early assessment and be linked to care and follow up as needed.
In the future, Three Corners wants to ensure community members have access to this screening.
“Many of the Three Corners Health Services Society community members are unable to access the urban-based diagnostic technology,” Sellars said.
“We are also planning continued education in this field; a workshop this Fall 2016 will follow up on the Spring 2016 workshop held in Williams Lake. We continue mapping “next steps” towards the elimination of viral hepatitis and increasing access to liver assessments.