CARBONEAR, NL – People visiting the eighth floor of the Carbonear General Hospital Thursday were sure to find out a little something about World Kidney Day.
The event is a global campaign aiming to raise awareness of kidney disease and the importance of kidneys, and to improve overall health by hopefully reducing the frequency of kidney problems on a worldwide scale.
The campaign has been an ongoing event since 2006. Each year, it focuses on a certain topic relating to kidneys. While 2017’s mission was to raise awareness of the connection between kidney problems and obesity, this year’s campaign focused on women’s health, with the day appropriately landing on International Women’s Day, March 8.
Campaign material for World Kidney Day notes that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the eighth leading cause of death in women, with nearly 600,000 deaths annually and CKD itself affecting 195 million women worldwide.
Carbonear General Hospital is one of the few healthcare facilities under Eastern Health to host special events for the day. In conjunction with the Trinity-Conception Placentia Health Foundation, the hospital’s dialyses unit hosts a presentation with a number of guest speakers, a cake cutting and a special performance for dialyses patients under the unit’s care – the hospital’s own rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” with lyrics altered to focus on the unit and sung by nurses and patients alike.
“It’s very clear as to why this was the theme of this year’s campaign,” said Helen Clarke, chair of the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation. “Some of the socioeconomic reasons behind it, is simply that there’s just less awareness for women.
“Even though kidney disease is one of the top reasons for death in women, there’s a lack of proper awareness for it. On top of that, there’s less access to the proper care, so I think spreading that message and raising awareness to those issues is very important.”
The dialyses unit at Carbonear General Hospital first opened in 2005 and served around 12 patients, most of whom lived in the region and were finding it difficult to travel back and forth to St. John’s regularly.
Now, in 2018, the unit oversees more than 40 patients regularly – just over three times the number they started with, which results in around 123 treatments every single week.
Patients in the dialyses unit were treated to a special performance earlier in the day by the St. Francis School Band. This, alongside many other fun celebrations, has made World Kidney Day a particular favourite for dialysis patients in Carbonear.
“We operate Monday through Saturday, with evening sessions happening on certain days to accommodate patients who still choose to work during the day,” said Lisa Penney, acting patient care facilitator for the hospital’s dialyses unit. “Our team takes on a multidisciplinary approach, with nurses, dietitians, pharmacy workers and social workers. This helps us make sure that our patients get the most effective care they can.”
Penney also commended World Kidney Day’s efforts to raise awareness of kidney problems and disease across the globe – a topic that has become a major part of her life as a member of the dialyses unit.
“Three years ago, we came up with the idea to celebrate World Kidney Day with our dialyses family. It’s really become something that our patients look forward to each year.”