Saskiw says "heads should roll" at AHS over LLB dialysis
MLA Shayne Saskiw had very strong words to say about the handling of local dialysis services by provincial officials.
“Heads should roll [at Alberta Health Services],” Saskiw said at a meeting with Lac La Biche County Council on July 12. “It’s got to be the worst management, of anything, I’ve ever seen.”
The community has long been pushing for a permanent dialysis solution, as there are at least 11 locals with chronic kidney diseases that need the lifesaving treatment up to three times weekly. The goal has always been for a full-time dialysis unit inside the William J. Cadzow Health Centre, but AHS compromised in 2010 by providing the community with a dialysis bus that travelled between Lac La Biche and Hinton three times weekly.
However, while welcomed as a big step up from driving to St. Paul for treatment, the bus proved unreliable—suffering from staffing shortages, mechanical failures, and the inability to make it to Lac La Biche in bad weather. And the bus couldn’t accommodate all the patients in the community, creating a waitlist for the service.
Former Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills MLA Ray Danyluk made a promise before the last provincial election that the community would indeed be getting a full-time renal unit in the local hospital, likely within a year.
Again, this led to disappointment. Earlier this year, the dialysis bus stopped coming to Lac La Biche, with AHS citing staffing shortages. But Dr. Kevin Worry, AHS’ Zone Medical Director for northern Alberta, promised that the community would be getting a retrofitted dialysis bus parked with the wheels off in the community full-time, starting on July 5. He told the Post that AHS isn’t currently leaning towards providing a full-time renal unit inside the local hospital.
The most recent disappointment is the delay of the promised full-time bus, which AHS says is delayed vaguely until “late August” for more renovations. In the meantime, local dialysis patients are forced to travel outside the community several times a week for the vital blood-cleansing work.
“This has been terribly mismanaged,” councillor John Nowak told Saskiw. “And we don’t want a bus with the wheels off—because they can always put those wheels back on and drive it away. We need a permanent solution inside our hospital.”
Saskiw—who made having a full-time dialysis unit inside the local hospital a central component of his election campaign—agreed that having a bus, full-time or not, is not the desired outcome for the community.
“This has been a badly bungled situation,” Saskiw said, referring to AHS. “It makes no sense to have the unit outside the hospital. And I’m going to go to bat for [Lac La Biche County] on this—you have my full support.”
The MLA said that if a solution doesn’t appear to be coming in a timely manner, he’ll look at alerting provincial and national media to the dialysis situation in Lac La Biche—as a way to pressure the PC government into working harder for the community.
Earlier this month, Lac La Biche County Council sent a letter to Fred Horne, Minister of Alberta Health, asking for an update on the current status of getting a full-time renal unit in the William J. Cadzow Health Centre. As of press time, the county was unable to say if Minister Horne had responded to the letter.
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