A new kidney dialysis centre set to open at the Glace Bay Hospital in Cape Breton is just what the doctor ordered.
The $8-million, six-station Tom Peach Renal Dialysis Clinic was unveiled Friday. The need for such a centre has been growing over the last 20 years, said Dr. Thomas Hewlett.
"Because of the high incidence of kidney disease and diabetes in the area, we've seen an increasing number of people requiring dialysis," said Hewlett, medical director for nephrology in the Nova Scotia Health Authority's Eastern Zone.
"The unit's going to be full from the time it opens and there will probably be a small wait list for it."
The Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney is the zone's main centre for renal services, with 26 stations. The zone also has satellite clinics at the Northside General Hospital in North Sydney, Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital, the Strait Richmond Hospital in Evanston and St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish.
The new unit in Glace Bay will be able to handle 24 patients a day, said Hewlett, which will provide local patients with better treatment.
It'll also help patients in Sydney, he said, because the regional hospital has had to run an overflow clinic on Saturday nights to accommodate the number of people needing dialysis. Providing treatment close to patients has been shown to improve outcomes, he added.
The new unit is not open yet, but Hewlett said it is nearly ready.
"We're still waiting for some water treatment tests to come back, but it should be within the next few weeks," he said.
The unit was built with a donation of $1.9 million from the late Tom Peach, a former school teacher.
Dr. Elwood MacMullin, senior medical director of the CBRM health-care redevelopment, said Peach was a demanding educator.
"It's been said by some that he was a bit of a curmudgeon, but my memory of him is that he was a kind and patient teacher for those who struggled with physics and trigonometry," MacMullin said.
Glace Bay MLA Geoff MacLellan, who was on hand for the unveiling, said he recognizes the importance of the unit because his father received dialysis treatment at the regional hospital for five years.
He said it has become increasingly apparent that health-care services need to decentralize.
"The new reality of health care is to get those critical services on our doorsteps," MacLellan said.
In addition to a new dialysis unit, the Glace Bay Hospital will be getting an expanded emergency department as part of the provincial government's plan to redevelop health care in CBRM.
The plan also includes new construction in New Waterford, North Sydney and Sydney.
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