KENTVILLE - 2018 is shaping up to be a ground-breaking year for the satellite dialysis unit at Valley Regional Hospital.
It is anticipated construction will be in full swing this summer if all goes as planned with the preliminary work slated to begin in the spring.
“You will see people starting to work in that area to prepare the site for construction,” said Connie Gregory, senior director for the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s renal program.
Dialysis unit builds similar to the project planned for the Kentville-based hospital typically take 18 months to two years to complete, Gregory said.
In January 2017, Premier Stephen McNeil visited Valley Regional to announce that the provincial government would contribute $9.1 million in funding toward the creation of a 12-station dialysis unit for the hospital.
The unit, once operational, will replace the six-station dialysis facility based in the Western Kings Memorial Health Centre in Berwick.
“Twenty-four patients receive dialysis treatment in Berwick. The new Kentville unit can provide treatment for up to 48 patients, and there are currently about 14 patients on the waitlist to receive treatments in the new unit,” said Nova Scotia Health Authority spokesperson Tamara Gilley.
Some patients with more complex medical issues, however, might still be directed to Halifax for hemodialysis treatment.
“It would be a unit that would be used for the stable, non-complex patient,” said Gregory, who noted that replacing a six-station dialysis facility in Berwick with one twice its size will create jobs for nurses and support staff alike.
Dr. Steven Soroka, senior medical director for health authority’s renal program, said hemodialysis patients generally require at least three treatments per week.
“It’s part of what we call kidney replacement therapy. The hemodialysis treatment tries to do what the normal kidneys would do, which is remove the toxins and fluids from the body.”
As it stands, there are instances wherein dialysis patients admitted to Valley Regional Hospital are transported to Halifax by EHS paramedics multiple times a week in order to continue their life-preserving dialysis treatments. These transports won’t always be required once the dialysis facility is connected with the regional hospital, Soroka said.
“If someone who is receiving dialysis treatments in the Kentville unit were to get admitted… and they were deemed to be medically stable, they could still receive their treatment in the Kentville unit.”
Further, Soroka said the blood drawn in the dialysis unit would no longer have to be transferred to Kentville’s lab via a courier or taxi, and emergency department services will be readily available on the same site.
“There are benefits of being close to a hospital, rather than (having to) drive to some of those other services that are required.”
The new unit’s design work features a lot of windows, and spacious stations for the patients.
“It’s going to be built to what the modern standard requirements are for dialysis units,” said Soroka.
“Kentville has been on the books for needing a unit for a number of years now.”