Kidney patient Gary Pollock of Campbell River feels the newly-renovated Cumberland Community Dialysis Facility is much more patient-friendly and must be easier to keep clean and a more pleasant working environment than the old building.
“Our previous building was really outdated, and our needs here were great,” he said during a grand opening celebration for the expanded facility Monday. “The building wasn’t all that user-friendly. On behalf of the many renal patients on Vancouver Island, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the people who contributed to make this a reality.”
North Island residents living with chronic kidney failure have improved access to hemodialysis now that the $2.25-million project to expand the outpatient Cumberland Community Dialysis Facility is complete.
The expansion project includes a 370-square-metre addition to the existing building. The facility can now accommodate up to 12 dialysis stations, double the six stations prior to the expansion.
Currently, nine stations are operating, and there is capacity to add three more stations as demand grows.
Dialysis support space at the facility, including the nurses’ station, has also been improved.
Funding for the expansion was provided by the Ministry of Health and the BC Renal Agency.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) staffs and operates the facility, and the annual operating cost of $1.27 million is shared by VIHA and the BC Renal Agency, according to a news release.
About 38 kidney patients undergo hemodialysis — a procedure that cleans the blood by removing waste products and excess water, which the patient’s kidneys can no longer do — at the Community Dialysis Facility each week, according to the news release. Patients generally need three hemodialysis treatments each week to survive, and each treatment takes four hours.
The Community Dialysis Facility serves patients from Qualicum north, including Texada, Hornby and Cortes islands, Campbell River and Mt. Waddington, according to the release.
“Having these spots available in your own community make a big difference,” said Pollock. “The costs and the isolation factors are really difficult for some families to manage. Having this expansion and upgrade is timely and is much appreciated by the patients.”
Renal disease is growing annually, noted Pollock.
“Having new, high-tech satellite units with user-friendly, dependable equipment is paramount to a dialysis person’s quality of life,” he said. “The need for more capacity in our community is going to become critical to keep people well enough to keep people in their own homes with their family and friends to support them.”
During the opening celebrations, Health Minister Michael de Jong acknowledged Comox Valley MLA Don McRae for his leadership on this project, noting that when McRae was elected, he was aware of the work his predecessor, the late Stan Hagen, VIHA and others had already undertaken and had stated that he wanted to see dialysis services expanded for North Island residents.
“Imagine this — in this complex machine we call a body, that part of it which is responsible for removing impurities and undertaking an ongoing cleansing process that allows us to live a normal life shuts down,” he said. “That biological system that we require shuts down, and it is life altering, it is life threatening. Technology has developed and medical science has evolved where we can make allowance for that. We can assist people to live as normal a life as possible through dialysis and ultimately in some cases through organ transplant. The ability to have that positive impact is very much tied to dialysis facilities being available to patients.”
The expansion was planned for the future in mind because VIHA is seeing increasing numbers of patients with renal disease, noted Dr. Bob Burns, executive medical director for VIHA Renal Services.
“One of the priorities in VIHA is to continue to improve community dialysis service access, and this beautiful facility supports that priority,” he said. “Now, more North Island residents can achieve access to the service when they need it. The doubling in size, the increased capacity all go a long way in improving quality of life for North Island residents.”
Donna Murphy-Burke spoke on behalf of the BC Provincial Renal Agency, which contributed $1.7 million to the renovation and an additional $75,000 for replacing a reverse osmosis machine.