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March 1, 2006
(Health and Community Services)

Government committed to enhancing dialysis services in province

Health and Community Services Minister John Ottenheimer today confirmed government�s commitment to enhancing dialysis services in the province. Funding will be provided in Budget 2006 to support new satellite dialysis units in St. Anthony, Burin and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The minister made the announcement at a news conference in St. Anthony today where he was joined by Trevor Taylor, MHA for The Straits and White Bay North, and Boyd Rowe, CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health.

"I am pleased to confirm that funding will be provided in Budget 2006 to support new satellite dialysis units in St. Anthony, Burin and Labrador," said Minister Ottenheimer. "Our government is committed to addressing the health care needs in our province and we have been monitoring the ongoing need for dialysis services. Due to the unique geography of our province, we recognize that residents in certain regions are at a very distinct disadvantage when it comes to accessing dialysis services. The communities of St. Anthony, Burin and Happy Valley-Goose Bay have been lobbying for these services for a number of years and have demonstrated the unique challenges dialysis patients face in their particular region. We recognize these challenges and are committed to addressing them."

The standard criteria used to determine the appropriateness of new satellite dialysis units still applies. The criteria include the number of patients in the region needing dialysis services, the medical condition of patients and the availability of specialized staff, including nephrologists, specialty trained nurses and biomedical technicians. Government will continue to consult with medical specialists on the appropriateness of locating a dialysis unit in a particular region of the province. However, there is also recognition that there will be unique situations where the criteria will need to be amended.

"Currently, there are less than the recommended number of patients requiring dialysis services in these communities, however, we are prepared to amend the criteria in these instances to accommodate the need for the service," said the minister. "We recognize that amending the criteria in these unique situations may result in some challenges but we are committed to working through the challenges in the best interest of these dialysis patients. We also recognize that other areas of the province are also looking for new services, and we will continue to monitor these cases on a go-forward basis."

Some patients (medically unstable) will always have to travel or relocate to larger centres as dialysis units in smaller communities cannot address the needs of unstable or complex patients. In addition, some patients can safely receive dialysis in their own homes.

Government will work in consultation with the Provincial Kidney Program staff and will begin planning immediately to identify an appropriate location for the three dialysis units, and begin recruitment and training efforts. The units are expected to be operational within 18-24 months.

Media contact: Tansy Mundon, Communications, (709) 729-1377, 685-1741

2006 03 01                             11:30 a.m.

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