Published by The Border Watch
By Raquel Mustillo
HEALTH Minister Stephen Wade has praised the efforts of the Mount Gambier Hospital Health Advisory Council (HAC) and the broader community in securing $55,000 towards the hospital’s renal dialysis unit.
Mr Wade visited the fully operational site which is three times larger than the previous facility - for the first time this week after the unit opened its doors late last year.
Funded by the State Government in the 2018 budget, the $2.1m unit houses six dialysis chairs and provides expanded services for people needing renal dialysis.
The upgrade has facilitated an additional shift at the treatment site, resulting in the number of people able to receive treatment increase to 24 from 16.
Mr Wade likened the former facility to “a broom cupboard”.
“People were quite stressed and quite rightly because if there was a medical emergency, there is no way you would have be able to get somebody out,” he said.
“You could not get a hospital bed in there and now they have a big spacious unit with lots of light, which is both great for staff and residents.”
Mr Wade highlighted the efforts of the hospital’s advisory council - and particularly presiding member Maureen Klintberg - in raising $55,000 towards the project.
“In the past, there has been concern around what we are doing is replacing what we are doing is replacing what we are paying for in our taxes,” Mr Wade said.
“What this government was very keen to do is to make clear that we were going to respect charitable funds.
“The community should be very encouraged by their efforts to work with the health services to provide a high quality renal unit.”
Ms Klintberg said it was rewarding to have the community contribution acknowledged.
“It should also be noted that our ability to achieve for the community is made possible by the great working partnership we have with the hospital staff,” she said.
“Without that, it would be much more difficult to be able to recognise the projects that will make a difference to treatment, as well as staff satisfaction.
“To have a unit that is equal to any in the metropolitan area is something we can be proud of as a community.”
Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Dr Elaine Pretorius said the location and design of the unit was crucial in supporting the quality of life for dialysis patients.
“People who undergo dialysis spend four to six hours every day in the unit, so the more appealing it is for patients, the more it makes what is a pretty tough gig easier,” she said.
“A space is not enough - if it is a welcoming and accessible space, it makes it easier to work there.”
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said the expansion provided patients lifesaving treatment closer to home rather than having to travel to Adelaide.
He described the unit as the result of a hard fought community campaign and congratulated the State Government for its funding contribution.
“I’m really pleased to see the upgraded Renal Dialysis Unit open and helping those who need this treatment,” Mr Bell said.
“People who live regionally deserve the same access to medical facilities and services as those living in capital cities and this brings Mount Gambier Hospital’s Renal Dialysis Unit in line with other regional hospitals across the state,” he said.