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Nanaimo's home dialysis unit eases burden on patients

Angela Glynn, a peritoneal dialysis patient from Courtenay, holds up tubing her catheter hooks into to undergo home dialysis at night. She was one of the first patients to receive treatment Thursday at the home dialysis clinic, which opened Monday and is part of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s renal unit.  - RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin
Angela Glynn, a peritoneal dialysis patient from Courtenay, holds up tubing her catheter hooks into to undergo home dialysis at night. She was one of the first patients to receive treatment Thursday at the home dialysis clinic, which opened Monday and is part of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s renal unit.
— image credit: RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin

Few people might get excited about receiving dialysis treatment, but for Angela Glynn, those feelings rushed to the surface as she stepped into the Nanaimo home dialysis clinic for the first time Thursday.

It wasn’t the dialysis treatment itself, but the fact the Courtenay resident was getting treatment closer to home that was exciting.

Previously, Angela and her husband Mike would travel to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for treatment. Travelling took its toll on Angela, who was often sick en route and staying overnight in a hotel to make early morning appointments created financial stress.

Dealing with dialysis is hard enough without extra barriers in the way, said Mike.

“I’m thrilled that I’m one of the ones in the earlier program. It means so much – freedom. It feels emotionally better because you are closer to home,” said Angela. “The drives were hard on me on my bad days.”

Mike said he often worried on the commute and that an emergency situation might arise because Angela would get ill in the car.

“Mornings can be touch and go,” he said.

Teresa Backx, clinical coordinator, said sometimes patients would require admission to hospitalized in Victoria and it was a “huge burden” on families to commute between communities.

Angela was diagnosed with immunoglobulin type A kidney disease last June and undergoes peritoneal dialysis.

About 80 patients on Vancouver Island require the same procedure, and about 40 of those live in Central and North Island and will receive treatment in Nanaimo. Previously, patients had to travel to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to receive dialysis instruction and educate, as well as follow up care about every three months.

Peritoneal dialysis involves  a special fluid pumped into a patient's abdominal cavity through a catheter, which filters the blood. The fluid is drained and replaced after it’s finished working.

The process can be done at home either through daily exchanges or by hooking up to a dialysis machine at night while the patient sleeps.

The home dialysis clinic is located in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s $9.4 million renal unit that opened in September  2010. The clinic offers services to people on peritoneal dialysis and opened Monday and patients had their first appointments Thursday.

Angela said the building is great and the availability of pump and wash stations to decontaminate her hands while learning to properly care for her catheter makes her feel “safe and protected”.

“I love it. I love how clean and new it is,” she said about the space.

Jodi Jantzen, renal services manager, said the patients will be slowly transferred to the Nanaimo unit.

“It’s very satisfying to treat the patients we look after closer to home and it’s a beautiful clinic,” she said. “The environment is beautiful, it’s calm, and it’s spacious.”

The clinic also has a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nephrologists, social workers, registered nurses and dietitians.

For more information, please go to www.viha.ca.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com

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