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Local dialysis program expands to help meet need

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Two trained renal staff will join the hemodialysis team at Dauphin Regional Health Centre (DRHC) to expand the program there, allowing for an additional 12 spaces.
“Effective Mar. 1, two trained renal staff will be hired to support the addition of a night shift, expanding the weekly patient capacity from 24 to 36,” Dauphin MLA Brad Michaleski said during an announcement at DRHC last week, adding the expansion will cost approximately $300,000 to operate annually.
“These new spaces will ensure more people living with kidney disease or failure in this community and region have better access to the care they need, when they need it, And of course closer to home is a huge, huge part of that.”
The initiative aligns with Manitoba’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan, which provides a road map for changes that will decrease travel and wait times for patients, bringing improved health care capacity closer to home.
“I believe it is roughly 22,000 hours a year, I think, people are on the road traveling from rural Manitoba either into Dauphin, or from Dauphin to Brandon, or from Brandon or Dauphin into Winnipeg,” said Brandon East MLA Len Isleifson, the legislative assistant to Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen.
“This project, just announced today is part of that plan. So we will see again, an ongoing $300,000 a year committed to this program, not to expand the program, but to expand the services and treat more people closer to home so that folks from Dauphin and the Parkland area no longer have to make that trip to Brandon when they are at full capacity here. So again it is about building capacity in rural areas so we can better serve the population and better provide professional services, special services.”
Approximately 14 per cent of Manitobans live with kidney disease and about one-third of them may develop kidney failure in their lifetime.
Hemodialysis uses a machine to remove blood, clean it and then return it to the body. Peritoneal dialysis cycles a solution into and out of the stomach through a tube to collect and get rid of waste and fluid.
The extra resources will be used to expand the program hours, which currently operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Now we will be open until 11 p.m. so we can get those extra people in,” said Cheryl Kennedy, a clinical resource nurse with the local hemodialysis unit.
“We will have the capacity for 12 more (patients), but it is into the evenings.”
Kennedy said a typical dialysis treatment lasts between 3-1/2 to five hours.
“And they dialyze three times a week. So it is a very difficult chronic disease to deal with on a daily basis,” Kennedy said.
“And because they are here three to five hours and many of them travel on country roads an hour, to a hour and a half to get here, their day is committed.”
Having treatment options close to home will become even more important, as the province’s kidney failure rates continue to rise, said Dr. Mauro Verrelli, medical director of the Manitoba Renal Program.
“At the same time, we continue to work alongside partners and care providers on efforts to prevent or delay kidney failure when possible,” he said.
It is a position supported by Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) through programming.
“We know the number of area residents living with end stage kidney disease is increasing,” said Penny Gilson, PMH chief executive officer.
“We are responding to this increased demand by continuing to plan prevention initiatives, deliver co-ordinated services and allocate appropriate resources to enhance access to service within the health region.”
For many people, early detection and treatment of kidney disease can help prevent or delay kidney failure or the need for dialysis.
Learn about kidney health and the Manitoba Renal Program at kidneyhealth.ca.