Dial­y­sis unit

Souris hos­pi­tal holds open house for ren­o­vated dial­y­sis unit.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE SHARRATT sshar­ratt@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/PEIGuardian

Try­ing to fight his way through snow and ice to get to Char­lot­te­town last win­ter drained dial­y­sis pa­tient Tom Elder­shaw.

“It’s a long haul and even worse when you have to bat­tle the weather,” he said. “It pretty well zaps your en­tire energy.”

It’s a two hour drive there and back from the eastern port town to the cap­i­tal city – even longer in win­ter driv­ing con­di­tions.

Elder­shaw had to make the drive three times a week just to stay alive. Add on the three hour dial­y­sis treat­ment once you get to the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Char­lot­te­town and that pretty well eats up the day.

So Elder­shaw and fel­low kid­ney pa­tient Jim Camp­bell were beam­ing Thurs­day af­ter Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie held an open house for the newly ex­panded dial­y­sis unit at the Souris hos­pi­tal.

The min­is­ter un­veiled the $300,000 ren­o­va­tion which pro­vides a mod­ern and spa­cious treat­ment area and a ma­jor up­grade to the wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tem. “We are now pro­vid­ing a higher stan­dard of care in Souris which is very im­por­tant to the pa­tients who re­quire this life sus­tain­ing treat­ment,” he said.

Three years ago, Cur­rie was the helm when Health P.E.I. rec­om­mended clos­ing the unit en­tirely and re­lo­cat­ing pa­tients to Char­lot­te­town for treat­ment.

That stirred up a hor­net’s nest.

The threat of ru­ral de­cay and lost ser­vices cre­ated such a back­lash in eastern P.E.I. that hun­dreds of res­i­dents filled public meet­ings and led protests at the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture.

“There was a di­rec­tion from Health P.E.I. about ca­pac­ity and there were lots of com­pet­ing de­mands on the health sys­tem at that time,’’ Cur­rie said dur­ing an in­ter­view. “It wasn’t a case of gov­ern­ment chang­ing its’ mind….the re­al­ity is the in­tense growth and de­mand for dial­y­sis needs which puts pres­sure on the health sys­tem and that’s why we’ve ex­panded here.”

The ex­pan­sion pro­vides more in­di­vid­ual space and pri­vacy for pa­tients and now al­lows up to 12 pa­tients per week to re­ceive treat­ment rather than 10.

One of the most vo­cal pa­tients against any re­duc­tion of ser­vices in Souris was Nathan Bushey, who ran for the NDP in the last elec­tion. He helped sub­mit a brief to gov­ern­ment in May 2012 ad­vis­ing of the health ram­i­fi­ca­tions to dial­y­sis pa­tients hav­ing to travel more than 15 min­utes for treat­ment.

“I think public pres­sure did it and the demo­cratic process worked,’’ he said dur­ing the open house. “The gov­ern­ment over­turned their orig­i­nal de­ci­sion to close be­cause of the public out­cry.”

“We’ve al­ready seen the pos­i­tive im­pact this ex­pan­sion has had on the qual­ity of dial­y­sis care we pro­vide and on the work-life of our staff,’’ said Ch­eryl Banks, di­rec­tor of pro­vin­cial re­nal pro­gram.


Hav­ing their cake and eat­ing it too. That’s what dial­y­sis pa­tients Tom Elder­shaw, left and Jim Camp­bell are do­ing as they celebrate the open house to un­veil the $300,000 ex­pan­sion to the Souris dial­y­sis unit that only two years ago was on the gov­ern­ment chop­ping block.

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