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LETTER: Hemodialysis: Why has Nelson been left out?

From reader Chelsea Freyta
Nelson B.C. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

I’m one of nine renal patients traveling to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital from the Nelson-Creston riding because hemodialysis treatment isn’t available at Kootenay Lake Hospital. Each trip takes up to 10 hours.

Because my water supply and septic system are not suitable for home peritoneal dialysis treatment, the social worker at the KBRH Kidney Care Clinic encouraged me to move closer to Trail. But a move would mean abandoning our home, family and the critical support of the community we’ve enjoyed for 50 years.

Deprived of adequate public transportation, renal patients must drive or depend on volunteer service, which we struggle to afford.

Resolutions passed by the Village of Kaslo, Nelson City Council, West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District Board, and eight other groups recommend hemodialysis be established in Nelson. Instead, IHA and BC Renal proposed a travelling Kidney Care Clinic.

Friends and neighbours are urged to volunteer to administer peritoneal dialysis in the home. They are asked to step into the breach because this province is unable to devise an effective recruitment strategy to attract health care workers to Nelson, despite the fact that many health-care providers are anxious to leave the Vancouver area due to the high cost of living.

And anyone who is not a professional health-care provider could be legally liable because non-professionals administering dialysis to friends or neighbours are ineligible for personal liability insurance protection.

BC Renal and Interior Health must establish hemodialysis treatment in Nelson, as they have in Creston, Grand Forks, Sparwood, and Cranbrook.

With the October election looming, it’s time for our BCNDP majority government to give us a hemodialysis unit as well as an effective strategy to recruit the staff that we, who have faithfully voted NDP, desperately need.

Christine Freyta