Return of dialysis bus is delayed
After Alberta Health Services told the Lac La Biche Post that the dialysis bus would be parked full-time in Lac La Biche as of July 5, the community has learned that the bus won’t be available to residents until the end of August.
After repeated attempts to contact and discuss the reasoning behind delaying the bus for two months, the response was minimal. Lisa Peters, a communications representative at AHS, said the renovations are not yet completed on the bus, which in turn has delayed the permanent relocation to Lac La Biche. She could not comment as to why Dr. Kenneth Worry, AHS’ senior doctor north of Edmonton, promised the bus would be in Lac La Biche on July 5.
The delay and confusion is nothing new. The bus’ official arrival in Lac La Biche last year came after years of effort — and an initial promise of a dedicated dialysis unit at W.J. Cadzow Hospital.
Up until a few weeks ago, when it was scheduled for an equipment and mechanical retro-fit, the bus had been housed in Lac La Biche for two days a week, serving a dozen local patients. In the past, poor weather, mechanical problems and staffing issues have caused the bus’ schedule to be irregular.
“Each time they make a new promise, they’re building our hopes up,” said Jerome Anderson, a dialysis patient in Lac La Biche. “We get excited when we hear this good news. But every story is just more and more B-S.”
Patients in Lac La Biche must now continue to make the trek to St. Paul for dialysis treatment three times a week for the next two months, a task that is physically and emotionally draining for the patients.
“It takes so much out of them, to travel that long and undergo that treatment,” said Dianne Ludwig, whose husband is now forced to take the trip. “My husband has to sleep the entire day after he goes in for dialysis.”
When Lac La Biche County Council learned of the delay, the thought was that they needed to contact AHS to find out why the community has to deal with another hurdle in a string of issues over the last eight years to secure a long-term dialysis solution.
“I am livid,” said councillor Gail Broadbent. “I don’t think a letter is strong enough. We need to contact the ministry, get them on the phone, and ask them: Is this all true?”
Fellow councilors who have seen the need for a dialysis bus or renal unit—having fought to have a full-time dialysis unit here for years—echoed Broadbent’s sentiments at a recent council meeting.
“Given what’s happened in the past, we need to have the Premier aware of what’s happening,” councillor Guy Piquette said.
“It’s gone from minister to minister to minister with no accountability. We’ve been fighting for this for three or four years, how many times have we been promised this bus?”
The MLA office was also up in arms over the delay of the bus, after it was thought that Lac La Biche would finally receive what it had been promised this year.
“The situation is completely unacceptable, if this situation is not remedied quickly, Lac La Biche could lose important residents,” said local MLA Shayne Saskiw, who declared that he will be lobbying for a quicker return for the bus to Lac La Biche.
Dialysis patients appreciate all the assistance, but what they really want are answers, truthful answers..
“If it’s going to take two months, just tell us that from the beginning,” Ludwig said. “Just don’t lie to us.”
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