Invermere’s community dialysis unit scored three new machines last month, as the Interior Health Authority switches its technology in several dialysis units in the region.
While the unit’s old machines were in use for more than a decade Maureen Lewis, Interior Health’s East Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary renal manager, says the machines weren’t replaced because of their age.
“The reason we had to switch our machines that we had wasn’t because they were so ancient or had too many hours on them, it was that the company stopped manufacturing them and they couldn’t supply us with equipment and parts to run them,” she explains.
Twenty-six of the new machines, worth $750,000 all together, were installed during the switch.
In addition to Invermere, units in Grand Forks, Cranbrook, Creston and Sparwood also got the new tech.
Money for the changeover came from the Ministry of Health, via the BC Renal Agency, which is in turn an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Nurses at the dialysis units were also given a week of orientation and training on the new equipment.
While technological upgrading didn’t drive the changeover, Lewis says the newer machines are changing patients’ dialysis experiences.
“A dialysis machine is a dialysis machine to a point. They all do the same thing, but some of them do it with more options,” she says.
“Actually, quite a few of our patients have noticed a huge difference. The way the technology works, for most patients it seems to allow them to have a dialysis treatment with less complications or symptoms. Less low blood pressure, less cramping, that kind of thing.”
Invermere’s dialysis unit currently has two regular patients, with the extra machine acting as backup should on of the others develop a problem.
The unit also serves visitors to the region from in and outside the province.
“We’re sort of a tourist destination for dialysis,” says Lewis.
In addition to dialysis, the unit provides education on renal health and nutrition, as well as social support for people with chronic kidney disease.