Good news for dialysis patients traveling to London. Bluewater Health has received written approval and funding to expand dialysis care by three additional dialysis stations in Sarnia. Beginning in January 2012, up to 12 more local patients will be able to receive care here.
Bluewater Health President and CEO, Sue Denomy, said today, “We are delighted to be able to expand our service to treat more patients locally. To prepare for the intake of additional patients, new equipment has been ordered and staff recruitment and training is close to completion. We are grateful to the Ontario Renal Network (ORN), the ESC LHIN, our regional partners and our dialysis unit staff for helping to move this improvement in patient and family centred care forward.”
The Bluewater Health Dialysis unit operates as a satellite of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), providing hemodialysis treatment for people with chronic kidney disease. Patient care is provided by Bluewater Health in consultation with a multidisciplinary team and LHSC nephrologists. The unit operates six days a week from 7 am to 11 pm, administering 8424 treatments annually. Most patients require dialysis treatment that takes up to five hours, three times per week.
“LHSC is committed to working with regional partners to ensure patients can receive care in their local communities,” said Bonnie Adamson, LHSC president and chief executive officer. “I am delighted that we have been able to increase the number of dialysis stations in Sarnia as we are continually seeking collaborative solutions to provide care closer to home.
The additional funding brings the Bluewater Health dialysis unit complement to 12 stations, increasing care from 54 to 66 patients. A phased-in approach will ensure a safe transition for incoming patients. The first three patients are expected to arrive by mid January. The expansion has resulted in the addition of staffing with funding from ORN for staff training (a minimum of 8 weeks), equipment and operating costs for the three additional stations.
A multi-disciplinary team of professionals at LHSC including nurses, physicians, social work, nutritional services and others, will complete a thorough assessment to prioritize and determine the patients whose care needs and health status are suited to be transferred to Sarnia. Inevitably there are individual clinical circumstances which require patients to travel to London for a higher intensity of care. The waiting list fluctuates, based on new and existing patients and their health status.
“The ORN’s mandate is to work collaboratively with chronic kidney disease (CKD) care providers to improve the quality of CKD services in Ontario. We work with our partners across the province to ensure that Ontarians with CKD can receive the care they need, as close to home as possible,” said Carol Rhiger, SWLHIN Regional Director for the ORN. “More dialysis capacity was needed in this region. This funding will help area patients with CKD by easing the time, travel, cost and inconvenience of receiving care outside of their community.”
“I have heard from several people, often seniors, who drive to London to receive dialysis. This expansion at Bluewater Health is very good news for those patients,” said Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey. “With winter driving conditions soon upon us, the timing of this announcement is particularly helpful. I would especially like to recognize the great advocacy work on the part of our local Bluewater Health team and the Sarnia-Lambton Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”
Dialysis care in Sarnia first became a reality in 1977. The unit’s last expansion was in October 2010 when Bluewater Health moved into its new facilities in Sarnia. At the time of the expansion, the hospital was able to take all of the appropriate patients off London’s waiting list. Prior to October 2010, Bluewater Health operated six stations which had a capacity to provide treatment for 36 patients each month.