AMHERST – The presidents of Cumberland County’s two kidney foundation chapters are calling on the province to fix shortcomings with the area’s only dialysis clinic.
Sharon Gould, the acting president of the Amherst and area chapter, and Springhill and Oxford chapter president Marj Brent said the clinic at the All Saints Hospital in Springhill is beginning to show its age.
“We have a lot of people who are traveling to Moncton three to four times a week for dialysis. Springhill has a clinic but it can only handle 16 patients a week,” Gould said. “It’s simply not large enough. Because it’s not large enough most have to travel to Moncton and that results in large transportation costs.”
Both Gould and Brent said the patients being served by the Springhill clinic have complete confidence in the care they are receiving, but there are limitations including the lack of wireless service at the hospital – something that patients say they need because while taking dialysis they are pretty much tied to one location for four to five hours.
The number of people who can be serviced by the Springhill unit is also limited because there is no nephrologist at the hospital, meaning only those who are stable can undergo dialysis.
Gould said some of the equipment is beginning to age, including a blanket warmer that has been having issues while one of the chairs used by the patients during dialysis has been having issues with its footrest.
Another issue is patients using the Springhill have to pay for the drugs used during dialysis, while those going to the clinic at the George Dumont Hospital in Moncton don’t.
She said a promise was made three years ago during a provincial kidney foundation annual meeting for the Springhill clinic to be upgraded.
“We were told the Springhill clinic was on the radar. The question is whose radar is it on and who’s reading the radar,” Gould said. “Since then, other clinics have been upgraded and they are going to have a new one in Digby, but there’s still nothing being said about the Springhill clinic.”
Cumberland North MLA and PC health critic Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin has met several times with members of the local kidney foundations and plans to take their concerns to Halifax. She said she has a meeting set up with Connie Gregory, the senior director of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s renal program, as well as Dr. Steven Sorokin, the physician lead of the renal program, and vice-president, integrated services Paula Bond.
“Patients here feel as thought they are overlooked. Promises were made that haven’t been kept,” Smith-McCrossin said. “Ultimately what we need is an enlarged clinic in Springhill that can service the needs of hemodialysis patients from Cumberland County. Along with getting it enlarged we need some improvements such as wireless and new chairs.”