After months of controversy in the community, Interior Health has decided to go ahead and move equipment from the Invermere Dialysis Unit to the Sparwood Hospital.
The unit has been closed since the beginning of 2013. Interior Health made the decision to relocate the service out of in Invermere because limited patient volumes and ongoing staffing challenges meant the unit was not sustainable where it was.
“I’m confident that the right decision was made in Invermere to be able to provide consistent, quality renal care,” Paula James, regional director for the renal program in Interior Health, told Black Press.
James said the care in Invermere was not consistent, and certainly was not ideal for the patients, or the lone nurse who worked in the Dialysis Unit. This is the only unit of its kind in B.C. operating with only one nurse.
“We’ve looked at the numbers and we don’t see it changing in the future, but never say never. Anything could happen,” she said.
The East Kootenay Regional Hospital District has been advocating for maintained renal care in the region since the unit shut down.
“I am not surprised, but extremely disappointed,” said Golden councillor Chris Hambruch about Interior Health’s decision. Hambruch also serves as a director on the board of the East Kootenay Regional Hospital District.
“The continued erosion of services in rural communities is, in my opinion, a major contributing factor in the declining state of rural B.C. Until the political masters in Victoria come to realize that rural communities are vital to the well being of the province, the continual spiral to the bottom will continue.”
There are still options for renal care if there are patients in Golden who require dialysis. In-home dialysis with personal equipment is becoming more common, and also reduces cost, travel and time.
James acknowledges the emotional reaction to the unit’s move, but says that Interior Health has to take an overview look at health care services. It was determined that the hospital in Sparwood would make greater use of the dialysis equipment than Invermere.