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Digby dialysis unit moving forward with construction to start later this year

Digby General Hospital.
Digby General Hospital. - Mark Goudge

The unit is expected to be finished in 2020

DIGBY, N.S. – A new dialysis unit for the Digby General Hospital will serve patients in Digby and Annapolis counties, cutting down travel time and relieving pressure at other dialysis centres.

In a media release issued March 12, the provincial government says it has approved an additional $7.4 million for the detailed design and construction of a six-station dialysis unit for the hospital.

Construction of the unit in Digby is expected to begin late this year and be finished in 2020.

"Some patients have to travel several hours every week for dialysis treatment, and that can add stress and financial strain on individuals and their families," said Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson, on behalf of Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. "By expanding dialysis services across the province, we can get more people the services they need closer to home."

Currently, patients between Bridgetown and Meteghan travel to Yarmouth, Berwick or Halifax for this specialized service. The new unit, which was announced in January 2017, will mean most patients who currently would have to travel to Yarmouth for dialysis will be able to receive it at the Digby General. The Digby unit will serve about 24 patients.

"It's good to know dialysis patients like me can look forward to less driving in order to get the treatment we need," said Bill Anderson of Deep Brook, Annapolis County, who has been travelling 80 minutes to Yarmouth for the past four years for treatment and recently started sharing the drive with another patient from Digby Neck. "This will be a welcome addition to the services at Digby General Hospital and will come as a relief for dialysis patients and our families as well."

Government is expanding dialysis services across the province. Other projects underway include Kentville, Bridgewater, Halifax, Dartmouth and Glace Bay. Once these are complete, the province will have about 30 per cent more dialysis seats, providing treatment closer to home for many. The area of Barrington has long been asking and lobbying for dialysis services but the health minister recently offered little hope for a dialysis clinic in the Barrington area anytime soon.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority notes it also provides home dialysis training and management to patients who want to maintain their independence by performing their own dialysis at home.

Meanwhile, the news of dialysis in Digby is very welcomed.

"We're very excited to see this satellite unit in Digby moving forward," said Connie Gregory, senior director, Renal Program, Nova Scotia Health Authority.

"When patients must spend hours on dialysis treatment three times per week, it's important to be able to offer that treatment close to home as much as possible," added Dr. Steven Soroka, senior medical director, Renal Program.

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