The province recently announced significant funding for treating people with kidney disease.
The government will purchase 20 home hemodialysis machines over the next two years at a cost of approximately $600,000.
In addition, Eastern Health is renovating space at Mount Pearl Square to house the Kidney Care Centre that will replace the current facility at the Waterford Hospital and be open in the spring of 2018.
“If your kidney’s don’t work, you need dialysis,” Health Minister John Haggie said Tuesday.
“The best dialysis for patients is at home,” he added, noting the new hemodialysis units make treatment more flexible and, with patients staying at home — in their communities — it also helps with the mental-health factors associated with serious health issues.
The addition of these devices will allow people who live in rural parts of the island part of the province and throughout Labrador to get dialysis in their own homes. This eliminates the need for these patients to travel to a larger metropolitan centre for treatment, eliminates the stress that travel creates and decreases expenses to those families.
“I am excited government is investing money into home dialysis for the people who reach out to me,” said Trina Ralph, executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branch.
“I am an advocate for equal access to treatment that will provide the best outcome for patients,” she said.
Currently, the system with the home dialysis machines is on a first-come, first-served basis, Haggie said.
The government also recognized the need to modernize outpatient dialysis services currently provided at the Waterford Hospital by acquiring and renovating a space at Mount Pearl Square that should be ready for use by next spring.
Eastern Health’s Mount Pearl Square location will not only serve as the Kidney Care Centre, it will become the province’s education and training hub for kidney patients.
With the province’s kidney specialists all located in St. John’s, it was determined this would be the best place for the centre. In addition, equipment and services will be moved out of the Waterford so that facility can focus on what it was designed for — mental-health patients.
Those receiving dialysis at the Waterford Hospital who are not eligible for home-based treatment will receive treatment at the new centre when it opens.
Health care professionals will provide education and training to patients on how to use the portable home dialysis unit. These professionals will act as a point of contact for patients in the event of follow-up, and also arrange the delivery of supplies directly to a patient’s home at no additional cost to them.
Haggie said they are currently searching for more trainers for the facility so they can meet the demands of the new facility
The Kidney Care Centre will have 39 chairs that will meet the demands of the Waterford in 67 per cent of the time. Instead of running three sessions a day, dialysis patients can get treatments in the morning or afternoon, and for now the evening sessions can be eliminated.
“In addition, they will be doing training for home dialysis there,” Haggie said.
“There are 20 people on a wait list right now for home treatments. Once we find the trainers, we can start training for home dialysis.”
Haggie said depending on the patient, the training can take four to six weeks to get them up to speed on the system.
The centre requires a water supply filtration system — a high-quality industrial unit — for a facility-based dialysis system, which is the biggest component of the renovation.