Dialysis has become a hot topic in the Highlands over the past couple of months, after it was discovered there are at least 23 people on renal dialysis in the shire.
The Southern Highlands Renal Appeal (SHRA) was formed more than 15 years ago by residents to campaign for a dialysis unit at Bowral and District Hospital.
Over the years more than $700,000 was raised for the creation of the unit, but it still hasn’t been used.
In 2008 a dialysis chair was purchased by SHRA for the hospital. However it has only been used once in the past five years.
The reason for this is that it’s only available for patients who self-dialyse. No medical staff are able to assist with dialysis at the hospital and patients with renal issues have been turned away from Bowral hospital as the staff are not adequately trained in this area.
So, about 23 Highlands patients are forced to spend at least three days a week travelling to hospitals like Fairfield, Liverpool or Campbelltown for treatment.
Each trip usually takes between two and three hours, dialysis then takes five hours, before patients get back on a bus to spend another three hours getting home.
It’s a long day for a healthy person, so imagine what it is like for a sick person. It’s tiring, uncomfortable, lonely and, at times, painful.
There is obviously a huge need for a dialysis unit at Bowral hospital and there is money allocated for its creation, so why are we still waiting?
The self-dialysis chair has gone to waste and it would be a shame to see $700,000 of community funds also go to waste.
The health department has said there are “no plans” for a renal unit at Bowral hospital. This is difficult to understand considering there is obviously a strong demand for renal assistance in the area.
As there is no renal medical assistance in the Highlands, some patients have had to move away from their only support systems, their family and friends, for treatment.
Being sick can bring on feelings of depression and loneliness and having to move away from your family and friends in order to be closer to medical treatment would not help a person’s mental state.
We can only hope that plans not to form a renal unit at Bowral hospital are reconsidered.
Highlanders should not have to give up their quality of life in order to be closer to life-saving treatment. This could be more of a detriment to them than their disease.