It’s Our Hospital – column 10

briar boyceUncategorized

Doing Dialysis in Picton: A Personal Testimonial

Peter Sheridan, Milford



Recently, several additional dialysis chairs became available in Picton. That news was welcomed by my wife and me and by other patients and families who no longer need to drive six or more hours weekly from the County to Kingston General Hospital (KGH) three times a week for dialysis.


MacSteven Dialysis Clinic, located in the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital, welcomes 11 patients for four hours of dialysis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and another 11 patients for four hours in the afternoon, year round. The clinic is open for 12 hours, from 7 to 7, on each of these days for preparation, patient care, clean up, report writing and many other professional activities by the staff.


PECMH is one of several satellite clinics of KGH. Three nurses are on duty here at any one time, with the much appreciated assistance of other support staff in their fields of expertise. The PECMH Auxiliary volunteers are greatly appreciated as well. From where I sit immobilized for four hours, while hooked up by catheter to a dialyzer and a blood pressure cuff, I am most appreciative for being covered with a heated blanket or donated handmade quilt, and for the water, ice chips, ginger ale or hot tea and toasted English muffins. We patients are spoiled silly, and I feel nothing but deep gratitude.


Dialysis itself permits us to extend our lives, for which we are grateful every day. I am most thankful for our nurses’ lifesaving compassionate professionalism and skilled teamwork especially in the event of crisis, such as when blood pressure tanks or spikes, or when muscle spasms occur. In addition to these caregivers, there are occasional nephrologists and dietician visits to review and fine tune our medical orders and nutritional advice according to our evolving needs.


As a patient, I could not help but become quickly aware of the cost. The first thing that struck me was the high capital cost of the complex, computerized dialysis machines that keep kidney-failure patients alive. I think of them as specialized electronic washing machines, with added filters and computer monitor screens and other modifications. They use a lot of water, electricity, tubing, filters and other replaceable materials which help clean toxins like creatinine and uric acid in the blood. They also help rebalance electrolytes and hormones as needed by each individual patient. Most importantly, they help to reduce fluid buildup and regulate blood pressure.


As well, there are many behind-the-scenes costs, such as leasing arrangements between institutions, salaries of various professionals and unseen technicians who transport and fix machines when they break down, and other costs such as hardware, software, supplies and diverse service and assets that I can’t even imagine.


How do I occupy my time during dialysis? Sometimes I catch forty winks! At other times I read a journal article on a Giller prize publication from our great library, or attempt to do a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. Through headphones, I listen to the terrific County FM 99.3 radio station. Occasionally I watch the History or Discovery channel on the overhead TV. Then there are times when I meditate on life and the many lessons of my disease.


I have a sense of profound gratitude for the highest level of professional care at my service. And I know both the effort and expense required, and I’m aware that many patients in other countries do not have such easy access to dialysis, if at all.


I am deeply thankful for dialysis in this country, this province and right here at OUR HOSPITAL.