Saturday February 4, 2012

Health News

The Politics of Dialysis

NDP bring in the big guns to press for local treatment

Staff/Voice photos


Elaina Wugalter (R) listens to Adrian Dix at Decades last week. Wugalter wants help to pressure Fraser Health to bring in a dialysis unit to Chilliwack General Hospital.


n Monday, January 30th, a small handful of people met with BC NDP leader

Adrian Dix and NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth at Decades Coffee Monday regarding the need for a hemodialysis unit at Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH).


There is no hemodialysis unit at CGH and patients need to travel to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.


Last month, a snowstorm hit Chilliwack that made a Beaufort storm look like a summer breeze. Highway 1 was paralyzed and in both directions. The storm stopped kidney dialysis patients from getting to treatment on time, and some were delayed two or three days -- a life-threatening situation.


Stories surfaced over the course of the storm, such as an 85-year-old driving another 85-year-old in the whiteout, and a man in his 90s who missed two dialysis appointments eventually becoming so sick the army was called to convoy him to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.


Dix rolled up his sleeves, and sat listening to the perplexed patients talk about the hardships they endure in getting to the hemodialysis program at Abbotsford.


In an effort to shed light on the dialysis dilemmas and put pressure on Fraser Health to get one in this city, Elaina Wugalter, whose husband suffers from kidney disease and travels 3 times a week to Abbotsford, has started a Facebook page called “We Want A Dialysis Unit”.


Dix said if the Liberal government can spend over $800,000 on ads slamming him, there should be money in the budget for a dialysis unit at CGH.


Farnworth said the group needs to advocate for a dialysis unit and mentioned the budget package in the spring.


NDP Health Critic Mike Farnworth speaks to the dialysis issue last week at Decades.


“We’re spending 40 per cent of our provincial budget on health care, and service in Chilliwack should be one of those priorities that need to be met.  The government can do that by ensuring there is more money there for dialysis.” 


Paramedics at the meeting gave their perspective as well, saying that many man-hours are consumed when their time is occupied by having to transit patients to Abbotsford in poor weather and having a dialysis unit in Chilliwack could save up to 80 hours daily system-wide.


Chilliwack-Hope NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony was also at the meeting. She works in healthcare and is aware of the issue about dialysis.


During the last Fraser Valley Regional District board meeting, Chair Sharon Gaetz expressed concern, saying she would be speaking with Fraser Health CEO Dr. Nigel Murray about the lack of dialysis in Chilliwack.


To connect with the Wugalters on Facebook, go here.



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