There are seven treatment chairs in the dialysis department. Sessions are currently held from Monday to Saturday each week, providing 84 treatments to 28 patients each week. Each patient dialyses three times per week, which equates to 156 treatments each year. The unit has been limited by the capacity of the chairs since 2011.
Less treatments were performed this year due to a number of renal transplants that occurred during the year. Figures are expected to rise to the previous level or higher in 2014/15.
One patient’s story: 13 years of dialysis treatments
Jean Wellman has been coming to GV Health for haemodialysis three times per week for around four hours at a time for the last 13 years.
Around 18 years ago, she was a healthy, active woman who had worked in the office at Ducats for 16 years. She was gardening at home when she started experiencing chest pains. She came to the Shepparton hospital and saw Dr Mark Harris.
She ended up needing a triple heart by-pass operation at Melbourne Private Hospital. After experiencing nausea, the doctors discovered she had kidney problems as well and told her that dialysis would help the situation with her kidneys and relieve the nausea.
She has her treatments normally on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and says that by Monday, she starts to feel nauseas and looks forward to receiving the Monday treatment to ‘feel normal again’.
She said the same people come on the same days at the same times each week and that they have become like family to each other. Each patient is given a handmade quilt when they begin dialysis that they keep with them throughout the rest of their treatments. These have been lovingly made and donated by the Goulburn Valley Quilters Association.
Jean said the staff and volunteers in the unit are lovely and look after all the dialysis patients well. They are given morning tea and sandwiches while they are there. Some work on laptops or watch movies on their ipads; Jean prefers to read a magazine and have a nap.
Jean said she is relieved that Shepparton has a dialysis centre.
“If Shepparton didn’t have a haemodialysis centre, I don’t know where I’d go. I would certainly have to travel great distances on a regular basis to places like Seymour, Kyabram, Echuca or Melbourne. My husband is fit and healthy (80) and he drives me to dialysis and picks me up, but that would be an awful lot of driving for him,” said Jean.
Dialysis hasn’t stopped Jean from living life to the fullest. She just has to factor different things into her travel planning these days. Beyond just booking hotels, flights, rental cars etc, she must also make sure she can book into a dialysis unit at a nearby hospital three days a week for the duration of the holiday.
She has had to change her diet to reduce salt, potassium and liquid intake because of her kidneys.
“It (dialysis) can be frustrating at times; but there is no alternative,” said Jean, resolutely.
“I just have to keep going. Sometimes I get low and down and ask myself if it’s all worth it. And then I say to myself, ‘of course it is...I’ve got lots to live for…in particular, a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren.’