For the past four years

Dialysis clinic not coming to Chilliwack: FHA

There is still no renal dialysis clinic in Chilliwack. Fraser Health Authority says cost is very high, and patient population too low.

Chilliwack residents suffering from kidney disease still do not have hometown access to renal dialysis treatment, despite extensive campaigning and political interest last year. But the Fraser Health Authority confirms that to set up such a unit would be very expensive, and there are simply not enough dialysis patients in Chilliwack to justify the cost.

March is Kidney Health Month, and March 14 is World Kidney Day. In British Columbia, over 240,000 people have some form of kidney disease, according to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Nationally, that’s one in 10. Fraser Health alone has 2,531 kidney care patients within its system.

In Chilliwack, 12 residents commute to the Abbotsford community-based dialysis unit for their treatment three times a week, confirms FHA. Another 14 Chilliwack kidney patients reside full-time at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. And an unspecified number are self-treating at home.

Fraser Health is not considering opening a community-based dialysis clinic in Chilliwack. The health authority says the patient population is too low, and Chilliwack General Hospital lacks the required supportive services, such as interventional radiology and vascular surgeons.

Setting up a renal dialysis clinic in Chilliwack would cost several million dollars, says FHA spokesperson Tasleem Juma.

FHA follows a regional approach to dialysis treatment. Valley residents are expected to commute to one of three hospital facilities (in Abbotsford, Surrey, and New Westminster), or to one of five community-based centres (in Abbotsford, New West, Coquitlam, and two in Surrey).

Juma points to the example of Burnaby, which does not have a comunity-based clinic due to a lack of required services at Burnaby Hospital. But Burnaby patients have a much shorter drive to their nearest clinic in New West.

Although some regions use mobile dialysis units, such as Ontario, Fraser Health has none and does not plan to pursue this strategy.

Arguably the biggest complaint against dialysis services in the region is that FHA does not assist with transport for outpatients, except in the rarest of circumstances. People who are receiving treatment on an outpatient basis, explains Juma, are considered to be in stable condition, and it is customary for such patients to commute for their procedures.

The reality, however, is that many dialysis patients are elderly.

While 78-year-old Cultus Lake resident Stephen Bainbridge could drive himself to the treatment, he would be too tired to drive back. For the past four years since his kidneys failed, Stephen’s wife Sharon gets up at 5 a.m. with him every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, to get to the 7 a.m. treatment at Abbotsford General. While Stephen settles in for the 4.5-hour procedure, Sharon kills time by wandering the shops of Abbotsford. It isn’t worth the time and gas to drive back home in the meantime.

“Your whole life revolves around this, and you have to adjust,” she says. “It’s a life-altering thing.

In the last two months, Sharon’s knee has been acting up, so the couple hired Chilliwack Community Services to take Stephen to his treatments. Because they managed to find someone with whom to share the ride, cost is $30 per day, $390 per month. Regular price for a single passenger is $780 per month.

The Bainbridge’s live in an adult-only mobile home park south of town, on their pension and savings. FHA says their income is too high to receive assistance with transport for the treatment.

Home hemodialysis is not an option for them.

“We’re not professionals. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with this,” says Sharon. “It takes two people to do this. What if one of us got sick?”

Last year, Elaina Wugalter rallied community support for opening a clinic in Chilliwack, after a January snowstorm nearly dislocated the city from Abbotsford, and Wugalter and husband Morris — along with patients from Hope, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs — had to risk dangerous roads to get to their dialysis treatments.

Wugalter considers the lack of a clinic in Chilliwack unjust, and a safety concern.

“There’s elderly people driving up and down the highway going to Abbotsford for dialysis,” she says.

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz and Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony have voiced support for a dialysis unit in Chilliwack.

B. C. regional director for the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Lois Wilson, spends March reminding people to reduce their risk of kidney disease by doing “the same little things” of eating right, exercising, and not smoking. Some people are also at higher genetic risk, as are people with high blood pressure and diabetes.

“If you belong to one of those groups, then you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms,” says Wilson. These include hypertension, puffy eyes and hands and feet, and abnormal or painful passing of urine.

akonevski@theprogress.com
twitter.com/WriteInBC

 

Just Posted

Search continues near Ashcroft for missing Prince George woman

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Prevailing in the face of adversity

Chilliwack pilot living life to fullest will speak at UFV Oct. 23

UPDATE w/ VIDEO: Chilliwack homeless camp given eviction notice

Inside the camp that will be removed by Monday RCMP according to trespass notice

Missing Chilliwack teen found ‘safe and sound’

Boy found just as mother was organizing search

Chilliwack Rotary club reports $4,200 theft at storage shed

Rotary Train Shed adjacent to homeless camp on reserve land broken into Oct. 15

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Are you ready for storm season?

BC Hydro offers tips on preparing for the storm season

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Most Read