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Posted: June 19, 2013

MLA calls on Health Minister to halt dialysis removal from Invermere

MLA Norm Macdonald
MLA Norm Macdonald

The opportunity to plead the case for the Invermere Dialysis Unit before a new Minister of Health is good news for the communities of the Columbia Valley and Golden, says Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

“I want to congratulate Terry Lake on becoming Minister of Health,” said Macdonald.

Health Minister Terry Lake
Health Minister Terry Lake

“Minister Lake will bring a certain perspective based on his knowledge of interior British Columbia that I welcome.  He will understand the importance of ensuring that residents are not forced from their home communities to receive on-going care.”

The closure of the Invermere Dialysis Unit has resulted in a number of dialysis patients having to move out of the Columbia Valley.  And the closure has meant that visitors who needed dialysis, who previously provided not only tourism dollars but healthcare dollars, can no longer come to the valley.

“(District of Invermere) Mayor Gerry Taft has worked hard to advocate for his community because he understands that the erosion of services has many impacts on his the area,” continued Macdonald.  “The loss of tourism dollars due to this closure has been significant.  And the ability to draw new permanent residents to the area has been hampered.”

Dialysis patients receive three treatments each week, with each treatment lasting about four hours.  Columbia Valley dialysis patients are now forced to travel to Cranbrook, a round-trip, which can take more than eight hours, not to mention the three to four hours it takes for dialysis.

“I have asked the new Health Minister to review this situation, and find a way to reopen this critical community service,” said Macdonald.  “The first step is to halt the removal of the dialysis equipment from Invermere, which is slated to occur in the near future.”

The closure of the Invermere Dialysis Unit was widely criticized by local government officials and unanimously rejected by the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District board.

Invermere resident Kirt Sellers (pictured above) continues to make the trip to Cranbrook Regional Hospital three times a week for dialysis after his support service at Invermere and District Hospital was suddenly scrapped, with plans to relocate the equipment to Sparwood.


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