© Scott Anderson
Premier Brad Wall announced $690,000 in annual funding to expand services at the hemodialysis unit at the Cypress Regional Hospital during an announcement on June 5.
Additional dialysis patients will be receiving service at the Cypress Regional Hospital following Premier Brad Wall's announcement of increased funding to double the number of patients that can be accommodated in Swift Current.
Wall, the Swift Current MLA, announced a $690,000 increase in annual funding for the hemodialysis unit at the Cypress Regional Hospital which will allow the hospital to double from 36 to 72 treatments per week. The hospital currently offers 12 treatments per day on a three day a week basis. The additional funding will allow for dialysis to be offered on a six day a week schedule, eliminating a current three patient waiting list and having the potential to meet the needs of three additional patients.
"It's great that we could be here today, basically doubling the capacity of dialysis and at least taking care of at least the three that are on the wait list. And if we need to expand beyond that, we now have some capacity," Wall said in an interview following the funding increase on June 5. "Certainly the region administration, the medical staff here, were acutely aware of the needs. So was the board, and the board has been making a compelling case both through our office and directly through the Ministry of Health."
Swift Current is one of eight satellite dialysis locations in Saskatchewan along with Tisdale, Prince Albert, Lloydminster, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Yorkton and Estevan. While the main dialysis centres in Regina and Saskatoon provide approximately three-quarters of dialysis treatments in Saskatchewan, the satellite locations highlight the importance of providing this service closer to home.
"I think regional services are important. We can't obviously have them right where people live, but we can de-centralize. And our government's worked to do that. To the credit of the previous government then moved in this direction in 2000. I think we've tried to expand on that as well. Again, it doesn't work in all cases. We've also got to balance the budget and make sure that things are sustainable, but wherever possible we need to bring more services to people where they live."
"This is a big province and especially for something like dialysis, as intensive as it is and as regular as it is, several days a week, if you're having to drive two and a half hours to get it," Wall said.
He pointed to the lobbying effort of local individuals and their friends and families who had been forced to travel outside of the region in order to receive dialysis treatments. He specifically pointed out patient Craig Brown who was one of the individuals required to make frequent trips for dialysis.
"They have never let our office forget about it. They've been relentless, which is exactly like people should be here in cases like this," Wall noted. "There were too many people traveling very long ways, especially this last winter...traveling up to three times a week."
“Residents of the southwest have been fortunate to have a hemodialysis unit available close to home, since its inception in 2000 and expansion in 2005,” Cypress Health Region Senior Medical Officer Dr. Ivo Radevski stated in a press release. “These quality-of-life enhancing medical processes are an important tool for our physicians to treat patients. They will appreciate the additional capacity to provide these treatments to more of their patients right here at the Cypress Regional Hospital.”
Gloria Illerbrun, Executive Director, Health Services at the Cypress Health Region, noted that in the next two to three months the Cypress Health Region expects to be hiring additional staff, with those individuals receiving the specialized training to work on the unit.
"Our staff has already re-arranged rotations and taken on some extra hours so that they staff and offer an increased service immediately," she noted. "We will have to hire staff first of all, and then there's a significant amount of training that takes place at the home unit in Regina, and then they come back and do some training here at the Cypress Regional Hospital as well."
"The end result will be increased access to renal services for all of our patients in the Southwest, closer to their homes."
There are currently three RNs working in the hemodialysis unit, with one full time and two part-time. The expansion will result in having RN staffing additional eight hour timeframes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while LPN staffing will be added to complement the RN staffing. When operating at full staff there will be two RNs on the ward and one LPN every shift.