No plans for dialysis in HP – Hoffman

Chris Clegg
South Peace News
High Prairie will have to keep the pressure on the Alberta government to get renal dialysis service in High Prairie, says a long-time advocate for the service.

“We’ll just have to stay on them,” says George Keay.

A letter was forwarded to South Peace News by a High Prairie resident, Eva Sartorius, from Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman dated July 21.

“At this time, AHS has no plans to develop a dialysis unit in High Prairie; however, AHS will continue to monitor the demand and number of High Prairie patients who are accessing this service in other locations,” wrote Hoffman.

Keay is not surprised by the news.

“That’s what I was told 5-6 months ago by the MLA [Danielle Larivee],” says Keay. “She said it would be 15 years.”
“I told her, ‘I think you’re wrong.’ I don’t think it will take that long.”

Diabetes Management Advocacy Group chair Lorraine Muskwa was away on holidays and unavailable for comment.

High Prairie advocates have argued for years the service is badly needed. AHS issued their own information called Alberta Health Primary Health Care – Community Profiles in March 2015. High Prairie ranked second in diabetes and Slave Lake 30th of 132 areas in Alberta.

In addition, High Prairie’s diabetic rate is 69.10 per cent above provincial average, Slave Lake’s just 20 per cent. The provincial average is five per cent.

However, it was Slave Lake who received increased dialysis service effective Feb. 1, 2016.

Keay says most of the issues to have the service in High Prairie have been addressed including space in the new hospital.

“It is my understanding there are people currently on staff at our hospital who are willing to take the necessary training and administration has agreed to let them take that training,” he says.
“The health foundation has money in place to buy the necessary equipment for dialysis treatment.
“It would seem to me the only thing holding up treatment is getting the government to finish the space,” Keay concludes.

Hoffman is sympathetic to the need for the service.

“I understand traveling for dialysis has many challenges and recognize your desire to have dialysis unit in the High Prairie Health Complex,” wrote Hoffman.
“In planning for safe, quality health services, AHS considers factors such as population growth as well as availability of appropriately trained staff, to maintain quality of service and to justify costs. Please know these decisions are made after careful consideration…”

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