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LETTER: We need dialysis treatment in Nelson

From reader Millie Harper
Nelson, B.C. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The majority of the hemodialysis patients I see in the renal dialysis area of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) are, like me, seniors who are suffering from kidney failure. Also, we have serious mobility issues that require the use of walkers or wheel chairs to get to the dialysis units on the fourth floor of the Trail hospital.

Nine of us from the Nelson-Creston riding (six from Nelson and three from outlying areas) are forced to travel and pay the transportation costs to and from KBRH over dangerous mountain roads in bad weather. As well as the financial burden, we must depend on friends, shuttle operators, or family members, who wait at the minimum four hours while we undergo hemodialysis three times a week. None of these drivers that I know are trained in dealing with medical emergencies.

This is not the way Interior Health should treat chronically ill seniors with serious mobility issues at the end of our lives. Not only are these trips exhausting and financially draining, they are demeaning to the spirit.

In Nelson, there’s a hospital located less than five minutes from my home that could be equipped with dialysis units, nurses, a technician, and a nephrologist (there are four in Trail) to service our needs if IH had the will to do the humane and environmentally sensible thing. There are charitable organizations that could be tapped by the hospital foundation to assist in underwriting these expenses.

Why doesn’t Diane Shendruk, VP of clinical operations at IH, respond compassionately to our requests for hemodialysis units at KLH rather than forcing the elderly to suffer the indignities of relocating to Trail, undertaking cumbersome and lengthy dialysis treatments at home, or sacrificing our economic security by forcing us to pay for transportation to Trail when we have contributed our time, efforts, and significant tax dollars to the welfare of this province?

Millie Harper