Rimbey seniors say dialysis unit needed

A dialysis unit at Rimbey Hospital would improve access for area residents, say Rimbey area seniors who are attending preliminary hearings related to health services queue jumping.

A dialysis unit at Rimbey Hospital would improve access for area residents, say Rimbey area seniors who are attending preliminary hearings related to health services queue jumping.

Lorna Diggle of Rimbey and Irene Kurta-Lovell of Bluffton took part in hearings in Edmonton on Tuesday.

The hearings are leading up to a provincial government inquiry on queue jumping.

Shortly after returning from a trip to the courthouse in Edmonton, Diggle said they wanted to stress why such a renal dialysis unit would be so beneficial.

The women are members of the Renal Dialysis Rimbey Support Group, an organization created about five years ago. Neither is on dialysis.

“We believe that the cities have preferential access because it’s easier for the people in the cities to get to a treatment centre, whereas people in the country around Rimbey have to travel to Red Deer or Rocky Mountain House,” said Diggle

“Some of them aren’t up for the driving and there’s no public transportation.”

Diggle said there was one serious crash last year where someone ended up in hospital for several months with a broken hip.

“He was too tired coming home (from the dialysis treatment) and went off the road,” she said.

Kurta-Lovell said that rural areas have more difficulty in obtaining access.

“It’s not that I believe every small town should have state-of-the-art medical care,” she said.

“However, essential medical care is an absolute requirement for small centres, and that it also be done in a safe manner.”

Kurta-Lovell said that those on kidney dialysis must have it to live.

Those who live in a rural area must drive several times a week to get the necessary treatment.

“If there is a blizzard or an ice storm, it doesn’t matter. Your life depends on getting that dialysis treatment.”

The women will find out in a couple of weeks if they will be allowed to take part in the inquiry as interveners.

Kurta-Lovell doesn’t hold great expectations that they’ll be asked to come as interveners, where they can cross-examine witnesses.

“However, I am looking forward to providing a written presentation,” she said.

The hearings will run for two weeks in Edmonton, starting on Dec. 2, and two weeks in Calgary, in January.

John Vertes, who retired last year as senior judge of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, will head the inquiry.

The inquiry is independent and can compel witnesses to testify, but it is not a court of law.

The judge must determine if some Albertans are using fear or favour to allow themselves or others to leapfrog to the top of waiting lists for medical procedures and, if so, to recommend what can be done to stop it.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com