Decrease in available dialysis times
The dialysis unit at Princess Margaret Hospital remains in “crisis” as some patients see a decrease in their dialysis times, said Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands yesterday.
“Dialysis has been a huge challenge for more than 10 years,” Sands told reporters outside of Cabinet.
“We have a dialysis unit at Princess Margaret Hospital that was designed for 125 patients.
“The public dialysis service provides renal replacement therapy to almost 600 patients, and so some of those patients are managed in Grand Bahama; some of them are managed in Abaco; many are managed at Princess Margaret Hospital, almost 200, and then some are outsourced to Renal House, to other private dialysis units in New Providence.
“But we continue to have significant challenges because we don’t have enough nurses, because the equipment requires upgrades and all of these things we are trying to address to figure out what is the appropriate way forward.”
Sands said as a result of these ongoing problems, patient times have had to be decreased.
“There’s not enough time in the Princess Margaret Hospital Dialysis Unit, and so some people have had their total dialysis time reduced,” he noted.
“Sometimes people only get two and a half hours; sometimes people get three hours.
“The typical is three to four hours.
“And so these are real problems. We don’t have the dialysis nurses to provide the level of care that we would like to provide, and yet we are mandated to soldier on.”
Sands continued, “This has been an ongoing crisis for years.
“The issue of nursing and the loss of critical care nurses adds to this problem.”
According to a Ministry of Health minute paper, The Bahamas is in dire need of 528 registered nurses and 140 trained clinical nurses.
The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) had proposed to implement charges to dialysis patients for transportation from their homes to hospital.
The proposal, which was outlined in a leaked memo from the PHA, would have implemented a one-way charge rate – $25 (to or from the dialysis unit); and a round trip charge rate – $50 (to and from dialysis unit). This would have represented a weekly charge rate of $150 (three times a week).
However, Sands has explained that while the proposal service could help many patients, it was only at the consideration stage.
He said that if it were implemented, it would provide a service which currently does not formally exist at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and would have been completely optional for patients.
Many dialysis patients received transportation to PMH on the donated hospitality bus, which has been out of commission since spring.
However, most dialysis wheelchair patients who now need rides get them through a private company that charges patients $10 a day.