Dialysis turns critical

Dialysis treatment at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has reached a critical stage, says the head of internal medicine at the hospital.

Dialysis treatment at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has reached a critical stage, says the head of internal medicine at the hospital.

Dr. Kym Jim, a kidney specialist, says the hospital has reached its capacity to dialyze 120 patients and has been over capacity intermittently for the past six months.

Dialysis is an artificial means to remove waste from the blood of patients who have lost kidney function.

“Dialysis is a life sustaining therapy for which if you don’t have it and you need it, then you expire without it . . . It’s definitive.

“That’s why this is so critical because basically what’s happened is the Red Deer site has ran out of dialysis spaces,” said Jim.

The Northern Alberta and the Territories branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada is also concerned about the struggle for space for dialysis patients, said Flavia Robles, executive director.

“People need to understand that these patients can die while they’re waiting for the treatment. It’s chronic. The need is real,” Robles said.

Jim said there has been talk of busing patients from Red Deer to outlying dialysis units, probably in Stettler and Rocky Mountain House to accommodate the lack of space in Red Deer. He said this is a only one short term solution.

“Unfortunately this will be a tremendous hardship for some people to have to do this. So we’ll be asking for volunteers first, people who are able to travel. Beyond that, administration from Edmonton will be selecting which patients will have to travel due to a lack of space,” Jim said.

These patients will have to spend an hour and half travelling in each direction three times a week, spending four hours dialyzing at the site and spending half an hour getting ready to dialyze on top of that.

Jim said there are four available dialysis spots in Rocky right now. It is not known how many spots Stettler can afford to give up yet.

Patients will be advised on the specific details of the plan within the next couple of days or over the next week, Jim said.

The number of patients needing dialysis is swelling across the province, said Jim, noting a shortage of dialysis spaces in Edmonton and Calgary.

When the hospital reaches capacity, dialysis staff at Red Deer have been making it work by dialyzing already hospitalized patients in the hospital to free up spaces for some of the people who would typically use the outpatient facility.

“The difficulty is we’re out of space and we’re a long ways away from being able to get space in Red Deer itself because of planning difficulties really,” Jim said.

The Northern Alberta Renal Program plans to expand the provincial capacity for dialysis, said Jim, but that may take years to come to fruition.

“Planning for capacity has been ongoing but there’s been no approvals for plans yet,” he said. “The dialysis staff and physicians are very concerned about the situation and we’ll do all we can do to make things better but we’re limited with what we can do when we have no space.”

Robles says the kidney foundation says it is doing what it can.

“We hear from the social workers that support those on dialysis about the need for more beds, about them having to shift around and go to different units,” Robles said. “We’re advocating what we can do to help, which is provide some financial assistance. It doesn’t free up a bed, but it helps with travelling expenses for those who have to travel over 60 km or more for dialysis treatment.”

According to Robles, 4,500 Canadians are on the organ donation waiting list and 80 per cent of them need a kidney. The wait for a kidney transplant can be up to four years, she added.

With a kidney transplant, a patient saves over $200,000 over the first five years compared what they would be spending for dialysis treatment, said Robles. The average cost per patient for dialysis is $70,000 per year.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Firefighters to visit Oriole Park homes near industrial fire to answer questions

About 80 homes were evacuated on Wednesday because of nearby fire

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

EDMONTON — Jason Kenney, Alberta’s incoming premier, said he cordially talked pipelines… Continue reading

Shooting victims in Penticton, B.C., remembered before vigil at city park

PENTICTON, B.C. — Family and friends are remembering neighbours who were gunned… Continue reading

Updated: Industrial fabrication shop in Red Deer destroyed in morning fire

About 30 workers got out safely before building in north end gutted

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Netflix adds 9.6M subscribers in 1Q as competition heats up

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber… Continue reading

Liberals find anti-Trudeau sentiment on campaign trail in Prince Edward Island

OTTAWA — When voters in Prince Edward Island go to the polls… Continue reading

Officer tells of finding body at trial for B.C. dad accused of killing daughters

VANCOUVER — A police officer choked up Tuesday as he recalled finding… Continue reading

Man faces murder charges in slayings of two men, two women in Penticton, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. — A former city employee described as a hard-working, civic-minded… Continue reading

A look at Alberta’s elections since the province was created in 1905

EDMONTON — A chronology of Alberta elections: Nov. 9, 1905: Lawyer Alexander… Continue reading

Most Read