Dialysis access expands in two northern Alberta communities

January 13, 2023

NORTH ZONE – The hemodialysis units at St. Therese-St. Paul Healthcare Centre and Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray have expanded their hours of operation, bringing care closer to home for six dialysis patients in each community.

“We’re excited to be able to expand our care at these facilities,” says Nicole Veronovici, Executive Director for Alberta Kidney Care North. “Having closer access to dialysis treatment gives people back time they would have spent travelling that they can use to rest, to work and to enjoy the things that matter to them.”

Both the St. Paul and Fort McMurray units began offering expanded hours on Jan. 2. Currently there is sufficient dialysis capacity in both communities to serve all local patients.

“Expanding dialysis services ensures more of our residents can undergo treatment right here in St. Paul near family and supports. Thank you to our local care teams for expanding this important service in our community,” says David Hanson, MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul.

 “This is welcome news for residents in our region who require dialysis treatment,” says Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. “I thank Alberta Health Services and all the staff involved for working to ensure fewer patients have to travel away from family and home to receive this life-saving care.”

The decision to increase dialysis spots in a community is based on several factors, with patient need being the main priority. These include:

The availability of space, community support for increased dialysis spots, and the ability to secure trained staff are also key considerations.

“It’s terrific to be able to welcome more people into regular hemodialysis spots in these communities,” says Amie Sawchuk, unit manager for the St. Paul and Fort McMurray locations. “Dialysis treatments take several hours each and happen a few times each week. Patients love the convenience of being closer to home. Some also benefit from the supportive connections they form with the people who share their regular treatment times.”

In the last year, a new dialysis unit was opened in High Prairie, and Grande Prairie became the first location in the AHS North Zone to have a home peritoneal dialysis unit.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.