New mini dialysis unit for Hinton supports rural patients

By Eric Rosendahl, MLA for West Yellowhead.

We are a government that listens and responds to the health care needs of local communities and the decision to preserve dialysis in Hinton speaks to that priority. Patients in Hinton, as well as Jasper and Grande Cache, and Whitecourt will continue to receive dialysis close to home with $1.3 million being allocated for two new satellite dialysis units at the Hinton and Whitecourt Healthcare Centres.

Our government‘s goal is to provide Albertans with the right care, in the right place, at the right time, for the right investment. I’m proud to be part of a government committed to supporting rural health care; a government that works with communities and invests in local health needs. I’m proud we make decisions based on the importance of helping patients access care as close to their home communities as possible, even when times are tough financially.

Over the past few months, I’ve met with patients and their families who were extremely concerned about what their future may look like if mobile dialysis service was eliminated. The dialysis bus has been a lifeline for patients in Hinton, Jasper, Grande Cache. But that bus has something like a million kilometres clocked and it’s nearing the end of its lifespan. It’s already broken down several times. With a dialysis unit included in the new Edson Healthcare Centre, there has been uncertainty about what this means for dialysis patients in Hinton and Whitecourt.

I’m proud to be part of a government committed to supporting rural health care; a government that works with communities and invests in local health needs. 

Patients said they were anxious about facing long hours on the road for this life-saving treatment. They felt driving to Edson to receive dialysis, especially during winter, would put them at risk. They didn’t want anything fancy but they wanted to be able to maintain some quality of life, given the challenges they already face living with kidney disease.

I worked closely with the Minister of Health to make sure our residents were heard. This led to a series of meetings between AHS staff and dialysis patients. It was through these conversations that solutions began to emerge and I’m grateful for the help of everyone who participated.

The dialysis units will be built at the Hinton and Whitecourt Healthcare Centres. Nursing staff will also be recruited and trained. Each unit will include three dialysis stations so all patients cur-rently receiving treatment on the bus can continue to receive treatment close to their homes. The new Edson Healthcare Centre also includes a state-of-the-art dialysis unit that will accommodate up to six patients, because we know the need for dialysis will continue to grow.

Dialysis will continue to be provided by the mobile service in Hinton and Whitecourt until the satellite dialysis units are complete. If it turns out the bus doesn’t make it that far, AHS will have a contingency plan to make sure people get the care they need. Our government is pleased to work in partnership with AHS and local communities to come up with solutions that best meet their needs. I’m pleased we’re moving forward with a plan that recognizes the importance of providing this life-saving treatment close to patients’ homes. I thank the residents of Hinton and local town leadership for your patience, your advocacy and your understanding while we worked to bring about this solution.

First published in the Edson Leader, Dec. 19, 2016.