No dial­y­sis unit for Brooks after AHS pulls fund­ing

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Front Page - BY JAMIE RIEGER — jrieger@prairiepos­

When the Brooks and Dis­trict Health Foun­da­tion first started reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity a few years ago to raise money for a dial­y­sis unit for the Brooks Health Cen­tre, the feel­ing the need for the unit was def­i­nitely there.

At the time, 14 pa­tients were forced to travel from Brooks to other med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties to re­ceive their dial­y­sis treat­ments.

It was in 2014 that the health foun­da­tion and the South­ern Al­berta Re­nal Pro­gram started dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing a dial­y­sis unit to Brooks, with Al­berta Health Ser­vice show­ing their sup­port for the ini­tia­tive.

The foun­da­tion be­gan fundrais­ing in 2015, with the un­der­stand­ing that if they were to raise $1.5 mil­lion, the prov­ince would con­trib­ute the bal­ance.

In 2016, Al­berta Min­is­ter of Health Sarah Hoff­man re­leased a state­ment that in­cluded $2.1 mil­lion be­ing ear­marked for the dial­y­sis pro­gram. A lot can change in a few short years. The health foun­da­tion has raised ap­prox­i­mately $1 mil­lion for the unit, but the needs in the com­mu­nity have de­creased, and up un­til Oc­to­ber, the provin­cial gov­ern­ment has been silent about any com­mit­ment.

It was not un­til AHS was forced to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion about what their com­mit­ment would be that the Brooks and Dis­trict Health Foun­da­tion learned that AHS would not be sup­port­ive as the de­mand in the com­mu­nity was no longer there.

"There are not enough pa­tients who would need the dial­y­sis ma­chine, so they (AHS) pulled their fund­ing," said Diane De­clercq, chair of the Brooks and Dis­trict Health Foun­da­tion, adding that there needs to be a min­i­mum of six pa­tients who re­quire dial­y­sis for the prov­ince to show any kind of sup­port.

"There was de­mand for it when we started, but that de­mand is not there now and that de­mand could change again," she said.

De­clercq noted bet­ter tech­nol­ogy is al­low­ing some pa­tients to be treated at home and un­der­stands the prov­ince's po­si­tion.

"It makes sense if the de­mand is not there. I see where they are com­ing from. Why in­vest more than three mil­lion into a dial­y­sis unit if it's not needed?"she said.

What she does not un­der­stand is why the prov­ince sat silent as the com­mu­nity raised money specif­i­cally to be used for a dial­y­sis unit if it had al­ready de­cided that the Al­berta gov­ern­ment would not be con­tribut­ing one cent.

"The bot­tom line is there has been just over $1 mil­lion raised and ear­marked for that dial­y­sis unit and our po­si­tion is that money will stay in the com­mu­nity, to help peo­ple with dial­y­sis. We just don't know what that will look like yet," said De­clercq. "We have made it clear that noth­ing go­ing for­ward will be done with­out a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing."

Cur­rently, the Brooks and Dis­trict Health Foun­da­tion are meet­ing with stake­hold­ers and donors to find out how to best dis­trib­ute the money that has been raised.

"We are look­ing and as­sess­ing what are the other great­est needs in the com­mu­nity. The money will be rein­vested back into the com­mu­nity," she said, adding that hav­ing not enough pa­tients re­quir­ing a dial­y­sis unit is not a bad thing.

"If the com­mu­nity doesn't have that many peo­ple who need a dial­y­sis ma­chine, how is that a bad thing?" she said.

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