Dialysis expansion supports more patients in Wetaskiwin

July 7, 2021

WETASKIWIN – More patients with chronic kidney disease are now able to access dialysis care at the Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre, as the hemodialysis unit expands its hours to offer additional appointment times. 

More than $400,000 in annual funding has been allocated to fund the expansion, which will enable the local hemodialysis unit to accommodate 72 patients, up from 63. Demand for dialysis has been steady and every patient previously on the waitlist for local dialysis treatment is now being accommodated.

Dialysis will now be offered six days a week with three separate therapy sessions – morning, afternoon and evening – that can accommodate nine additional patients from the Wetaskiwin area.  

“This is welcome news for my constituents with renal disease,” says Rick Wilson, MLA for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin. “Dialysis is a difficult and demanding treatment so I am grateful that Alberta Health Services (AHS) is finding ways to ensure the people who need it do not have to be burdened with travel outside of the local area.”

Hemodialysis is the process of cleansing the blood of toxins and excess fluid when normal kidney function is reduced. A patient’s blood is filtered through a dialyzer and returned to the body. 

Treatment, which can take four hours, is often required three times a week. 

For patients like Bill Hurd, the expansion is welcome news. 

“Anytime you can get care close to home, it is a good thing,” says Hurd, who has been on dialysis for nine years. He currently attends the unit in Wetaskiwin three times a week, after previously having to travel to Red Deer. “I was fortunate I didn’t have to travel for long, and it is nice to know others won’t have to travel now as well. It is a great unit here. The staff are excellent.”

“We understand the importance and benefits of receiving care and treatment as close to home as possible,” says Janice Stewart, Chief Zone Officer, AHS Central Zone. “We know that travelling for medical needs can be a burden to patients and their families. Receiving treatment close to home improves quality of life for our patients and AHS is continually monitoring and assessing the needs of dialysis patients across the province. We are pleased to be offering these additional spaces in Wetaskiwin.”

Dialysis is offered in other communities within AHS Central Zone, including Red Deer, Drayton Valley, Drumheller, Rocky Mountain House, Olds, Stettler, Vegreville and Lloydminster. 

“We are very grateful to all the stakeholders involved in making this expansion possible,” says Tracy Delorme, Patient Care Manager with Alberta Kidney Care-North. “The staff involved have been instrumental in expanding the hours of the clinic as we respond to local needs, and it is rewarding to see patients not have to travel for the care they need.” 

Alberta Kidney Care-North provides assessment, treatment, and follow-up for people with kidney problems in a geographical area that includes central and northern Alberta. In addition to facility-based hemodialysis treatments, the program also provides peritoneal dialysis, home hemodialysis, and conservative care, which enables patients who may not tolerate dialysis to enjoy the best quality of life possible without hemodialysis. 

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