Construction on much-anticipated Glace Bay dialysis unit to begin this spring

Construction of a six-station dialysis unit at the Glace Bay Hospital is expected to begin this spring, a much-anticipated project in the area and part of a series of new units being rolled out across Nova Scotia.

At the moment, dialysis patients must travel to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney for treatment, about a 30-minute drive away.

Government has approved funding for the construction and a request for proposals will be issued next month, according to Business Minister Geoff MacLellan, who is the MLA for the area.

Nearly $2 million of the $7 million needed for the project will come from the estate of Tom Peach of Glace Bay.

"Tom Peach was really the person that gave me the ability two or three years ago to begin to fight for this for Glace Bay," MacLellan told CBC's Mainstreet Cape Breton on Wednesday.

"He left in his estate $1.9 million towards a Glace Bay dialysis unit with a running clock, so past a certain point that would no longer be an option."

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MacLellan said his father underwent four years of dialysis at Cape Breton Regional.

"Luckily for my dad, he could drive himself in for the most part, but lots of people can't," he said.

There are about 25 people in the Glace Bay area that need dialysis and it's "very draining to their systems." Cutting down on travel will be "significant," MacLellan said.

MacLellan said he anticipates construction will be completed in the spring of 2020.

In a news release, the province said it has also approved funding for the design phase to expand the dialysis units at the Halifax Infirmary and the Dartmouth General Hospital.

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Six dialysis stations will be added to each hospital. When finished, there will be 15 stations at the Dartmouth General and 18 at the Halifax Infirmary, in addition to the 34 stations in the Dickson Building at the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

The government said six other Nova Scotia hospitals are in the process of building or expanding dialysis units.

Construction of a new 12-station dialysis unit at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville is underway and is expected to be completed by next winter.

Construction of a new six-station dialysis unit at the Digby General Hospital has started and is expected to be completed by spring 2020.

A new 12-station dialysis unit is also being added to the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater as part of a larger redevelopment project. That project is in the design phase.