Money in budget for dialysis

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The United Conservative government will honour the previous government’s wishes to provide renal dialysis service in High Prairie, promises Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn.

“It’s long overdue and I expressed that to the minister,” says Rehn.

“I’ll do everything in my power to get it done. We do need to get that dialysis up and running. We need it desperately.”

Former Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman made the announcement in High Prairie On Feb. 6. Many thought of the news as an election carrot; however, Rehn confirms the NDP government budgeted $5.2 million in capital funding for the service.

“It [the money] was forwarded,” says Rehn to the current budget delivered Oct. 24.

Rehn met with Health Minister Tyler Shandro Oct. 23 and had another meeting with him Oct. 28 to try and move the issue forward.

In notes provided from Rehn’s office staff, it is written that “Alberta Health Services [AHS] has not yet spent any of the $5.2 million capital grant. Although AHS considers High Prairie as its highest priority for new dialysis services, it has identified concerns with operational funding availability.”

Rehn continues to work on the concerns, hopefully addressed in the budget.

Rehn credits the two advocacy groups in the High Prairie area who have pressed his government for a dialysis unit. He adds local politicians and health officials have also done their part in making the government aware of the need.

“You guys have done a great job of bringing evidence and reasons why you need it,” says Rehn.

“At his point, there’s not much more you can do. I’m hearing the concerns. I’m definitely being a champion to make sure it gets done.”

In AHS’s 2015 and 2017 community health profiles, the High Prairie area’s diabetic rate was ranked second highest in Alberta.

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