THE long awaited $120,000 self-care renal unit arrived on the grounds of the Tumut Hospital on Tuesday and is expected to be ready for use within a month.
Within the new building is also an accompanying health service, the chronic and complex care unit, which was funded through a $100,000 bequest from the Blakeney Millar Foundation and will house two health professionals to deliver the Connecting Care program.
Whilst one side of the structure will be well utilised from the opening day, the renal self-care unit may remain unused for some time as there are currently no suitable renal dialysis patients who are willing to use the centre.
Rural Group Manger for Riverina, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Dr Elizabeth Harford, said
they have approached a couple of suitable patients but those patients are choosing to do dialysis at home instead.
“At the moment Murrumbidgee Local District Health are working on a Renal Services Plan, so we are waiting for that to be completed before anything else about the renal self-care unit is discussed,” Dr Harford said.
“The unit has been set up for self-care dialysis. The range of patients we may have is hard to predict but there are patients in the community with chronic renal disease that haven’t moved to dialysis yet, so the unit is here and we have the capacity to provide this service to those clinically suitable patients.
In order to be deemed suitable to use the self-care service, the patient and their ‘buddy – the person would be required to administer the procedure, both need to be assessed through the ACT Renal services system.
Currently none of the local renal dialysis patients who travel three times a week to Wagga for the day long dialysis procedure are suitable for self administration. Despite years of fighting, even before the building arrived, to have the unit modified into a staffed clinic, the request remains unheeded.
“The new unit is a self-care service, other structural requirements would be required for it to be set up as a satellite centre,” Dr Harford said.
We have a renal outreach nurse who has been going for years to home dialysis and pre-dialysis patients. The
role of this outreach nurse is to provide assessment and support.”
Ted and Helen Taylor, who have been leading the push for a staffed facility, were at the hospital on Tuesday to watch the demountable buildings craned into place. Neither was smiling.
“Here comes the white elephant,” said Ted, who is among the Tumut contingent who travels to Wagga for renal dialysis treatment.
“It’s not much use if it’s not staffed.”
The Taylors can’t understand that while it takes a ‘buddy’ and the patient six weeks training in the use of the necessary equipment to administer dialysis, nurses must undertake an extra two years of training on top of their usual skills to carry out the same task.
“It’s just illogical,” Mrs Taylor said.
In direct contrast to the empty waiting list for the self-care renal unit, the other half of the building is expected to be well utilised and Dr Harford said it is an exciting venture.
“The Connected Care program is about linking people who have chronic (long term) diseases with a range of services,” Dr Harford said. “It is helping people to self manage their illness, promotes early intervention, offers gentle exercise in a structured way whilst trying improve the quality of life of chronic care people.
Aimed to reduce hospitalisation and the length of stay in hospital, the early intervention program revolves around secondary prevention management and linking patients with health providers across the community.
Two current health service professionals, Skye Gray and Alexandra Walker, will be working with clients individually or in a group setting to improve well being, health outcomes and quality of life for those diagnosed with chronic illness such as respiratory diseases, cardiac failure, diabetes, vascular disease and circulatory problems.
“Some of the patients using the chronic care unit will also be renal patients,” Dr Harford said. “The staff will be working with the general practitioners, the patient and their family.”
A walking program in Pioneer Park offering a gentle and structured exercise program for those suffering from a chronic illness will commence next week with more information available from the Community Health team on 69470901.