Woman off blood work pri­or­ity list

Mil­lville res­i­dent await­ing kid­ney trans­plant con­cerned about changes to ser­vice


A re­cent change in who makes the cut for pri­or­ity blood work ser­vice at Cape Bre­ton hos­pi­tals has one woman con­cerned about its im­pact on her health.

Kim­ber­ley Parks, a 46year-old res­i­dent of Mil­lville who is on home dial­y­sis and await­ing her third kid­ney trans­plant, had for years fit the cri­te­ria for pri­or­ity out­pa­tient col­lec­tion, which al­lows pa­tients to by­pass the wait­ing area and pro­ceed di­rectly into the col­lec­tion room.

But that all changed about four months ago when she and oth­ers were taken off the pri­or­ity list fol­low­ing a re­view of the ser­vice. Parks said she’s wor­ried the change could af­fect her chances of a re­ceiv­ing a trans­plant.

“They’re al­ways preach­ing to you that you have to look af­ter your­self and not to go any­where where any­body is sick in case you get that call for a trans­plant. If you’re sick ... you’re not get­ting that kid­ney,” she said. “It’s cold and flu sea­son and (it’s con­cern­ing) to go and sit in a wait­ing room with peo­ple that are cough­ing and sneez­ing and it’s never a quick trip into blood work.”

In a memo is­sued by the Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity in June, of­fi­cials in­formed af­fected pa­tients that the cri­te­ria for pri­or­ity out­pa­tient col­lec­tion would be chang­ing as of July 20.

“This will bring our ser­vices more in line with lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices across the prov­ince, and will al­low us to im­prove ac­cess and wait times for all of our pa­tients,” the memo stated.

That means that pri­or­ity ser­vice is now lim­ited to peo­ple ac­tively un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy, im­mune-com­pro­mised post-trans­plant pa­tients, pa­tients re­ceiv­ing cloza­p­ine, chil­dren un­der the age of seven, and pa­tients hav­ing a two-hour glu­cose tol­er­ance test.

“We are no longer pri­or­ity,” said Parks. “It’s just not right.”

Parks, who goes in for blood work at least once a month, has chronic pyelonephr­i­tis and un­der­went two kid­ney trans­plants in 1994 and 2001. She has been wait­ing for a third trans­plant for three years.

Greg Boone, spokesman with the Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity, said the changes were made af­ter a re­view of the ser­vice found that not all

“The goal for us is to pro­vide pri­or­ity ser­vice only when med­i­cally nec­es­sary and for all other pa­tients on a first-come, first-serve ba­sis.” Greg Boone, spokesman with the Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity

peo­ple on the pri­or­ity ac­cess list had a med­i­cal need to be on it, and that the num­ber of peo­ple on the list was in some cases im­pact­ing over­all wait times.

Boone said lo­cal med­i­cal staff don’t see the changes as a risk for po­ten­tial trans­plant pa­tients, but noted that pa­tients do have op­tions if they feel they have a med­i­cal rea­son for pri­or­ity ac­cess.

“The pa­tient can talk with their physi­cian who may then pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to us di­rectly ex­plain­ing why it’s nec­es­sary for the per­son to have pri­or­ity blood or spec­i­men col­lec­tion,” he said.

“The goal for us is to pro­vide pri­or­ity ser­vice only when med­i­cally nec­es­sary and for all other pa­tients on a first-come, first-serve ba­sis.”

Parks said her doc­tor has writ­ten a let­ter to the health author­ity re­quest­ing she be put back on the pri­or­ity list, but she’d like to see the whole de­ci­sion re­versed.

“I’m not do­ing this just for my­self. It’s the prin­ci­ple of it,” she said. “I want to see it changed back be­cause it’s just not good prac­tice at all.”


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