Three times a week, for five or six hours at a time, Maureen Thompson joins a dozen other dialysis patients at Royal Inland Hospital for what she calls her job.
But it’s not just any job. The treatment she’s received in the hospital’s seventh floor renal unit for the last seven years keeps Thompson and other renal patients alive.
The treatment acts as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function. Without it, her body will fill with toxins and excess water, she said.
“With renal failure, the kidney stops taking the toxins out of your body, which means it stops taking the water out. It goes all over your body if it stay inside of you,” she said.
Thompson eagerly awaits the opening of the North Shore Dialysis Unit this summer. She no longer requires acute care with a nephrologists nor quick access to an ICU. Thompson is at the point where she has treated herself at home.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake and Paula James, regional director of renal services for Interior Health, provided the media with a look at the new clinic at 797 Tranquille Rd. Friday morning.
Now just a barren, concrete room, Lake and James looked over plans for what the unit will eventually look like when it opens this summer.
Once finished, the $1-million project will be an eight-station hemodialysis unit with consultation and examination rooms, education spaces and a central nursing and reception area.
She said the unit will empower patients to increase their independence, gain the skills they need to have more control over their health, and increase out-of-hospital treatment.
Thompson is looking forward to moving her treatment to the new facility. She said there are two designated parking stalls for renal patients at the hospital, but they are often in use when she arrives at 7 a.m.
“Sometimes some non-renal patients park there. It depends how often the parking attendants go around,” she said.
That means she has to park and walk, carrying along a bag containing headphones and blankets that will keep her warm during treatment. Thompson said dialysis lowers the body temperature, and patients need to stay warm.
The new facility will have more parking, she said, and it will free up beds for acute renal patients.
“They’ve added two beds (at RIH) but that’s not enough beds,” said Thompson, adding 12 patients use dialysis at one time. “They will be needing the space in the future.”
Interior Health anticipates 20 patients will use the CDU at first. A maximum of 32 patients will be able to access treatment.
James said the CDU — which is in walking distance of banks, restaurants, grocery stores and Northills Mall — is ideally located for dialysis patients.
“The main reason this location was picked is that it’s accessible,” she said. “It really gives that community focus.”
The CDU is funded by the B.C. Renal agency and will be operated by Interior Health.