Renal dialysis group wants unit in Rimbey

Dear Editor:

The Renal Dialysis Support Group (concerned individuals from Rimbey and surrounding area) met Nov.21 in Rimbey to chart a course for further endeavours to obtain a dialysis unit in Rimbey.

Currently, for central Alberta, there is the main unit in the Red Deer Regional Hospital and three satellite units located in Stettler, Rocky Mountain House and Wetaskiwin. We have been told that Rimbey would not receive a renal dialysis unit until Red Deer is operating at capacity. That sounds reasonable — however that will never happen because of the way that the system is organized.

There are 16 dialysis chairs in Red Deer, of which 14 are occupied in three shifts per day. The two other chairs are reserved for emergencies, such as a transfer from an other unit or mechanical failure at an other station. This also sounds reasonable — however regardless of patient need, the numbers will always show that 14 of 16 chairs are active and the unit is never operating at capacity.

There are other numbers that give rise for serious concern. Apparently, the next two years could see an increase of 300 patients in central Alberta. Recently, the Red Deer unit saw 10 new patients come on stream in a two-week period. Is this a sign of what the future holds? Is renal dialysis about to become the next medical crisis following operation and emergency room wait-times?

Our concern (numbers aside) is the need for 13 or more local people to travel three times a week, (regardless of the weather) to Red Deer. One member has clocked more than 300,000 kilometres in just under three years. This is not for pleasure or employment — it is a matter of life or death.

The Renal Dialysis Support Group has been attempting to find a solution for the past two years. This included meeting with our MLA as well as with the Northern Alberta Renal Program (NARP) people. NARP is the governing body that controls distribution of renal dialysis units. What we received from them clearly indicated that they were funding and encouraging “ home dialysis.” That sounds OK — until one looks further. It is our understanding that home dialysis requires the patient to first spend six weeks in Edmonton to be trained. The home then needs a plumbing retro-fit, a room to store supplies and it must maintain hospital hygiene at all times to avoid infections.

Currently, no one in the group is on home dialysis but we would like to contact anyone in this district who is on the program. We are also requesting a meeting with the Rimbey town council to inform them and seek their support for a renal dialysis unit in Rimbey .

The Renal Dyalisis Support Group consists of individuals who:

• do not require dialysis;

• are now on dialysis;

• will need dialysis and even one who has recovered.

We encourage others to contact June or Paul at 403-748-2154 or Lorna at 403-843 -2392 for information. Our next meeting is on Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Rimbey Drop -in Centre (behind the condos on 51st Street and 53rd Avenue).

Irene Kurta-Lovell,

for the Renal Dialysis Support Group

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