Four hours of travelling to undergo five hours of dialysis will become a thing of the past for Blue Mountains kidney patients when the new renal centre at Katoomba is built.
The first sod of soil was turned today (June 13) by NSW parliamentary secretary for regional and rural health, Leslie Williams, with the centre due to be completed some time next year.
For patient Melissa Hodges, the day can’t come soon enough. For more than two years she has travelled from her Katoomba home to Nepean Hospital three times a week. The thought of being able to have her treatment locally would be a dream come true.
Dr Kamal Sud, department head of the renal unit at Nepean, said Melissa was one of many who had to endure the long journey.
“I have known of patients who had to travel one-and-a-half to two hours one way, be hooked to a machine for five hours then have to travel back, and this three times a week,” he said.
"I’m really glad that with the opening of this unit in the future, patients with advanced kidney disease, and their families, will not have to travel three times a week just to stay alive.”
He acknowledged everyone who had battled for 10 years to get the facility in Katoomba, singling out patient advocacy groups for special mention.
The $4.7 million satellite renal dialysis centre will be able to treat up to 24 patients a week.
Mrs Williams, a former nurse, said before wielding the shovel: “Living with kidney disease is hard enough without having to travel long distances for treatment.
“We are providing more services closer to where people live so they can have their treatment closer to home and closer to their friends and family.”
It will also take pressure off the Nepean Hospital renal unit, which services a large geographical area and a growing population.
The centre will be built behind a maintenance building near the hospital’s helipad. About 40 mature roses – some more than 30 years old – were carefully removed from the garden beds by hospital garden staff and have been stored away. Some will be returned to the area when the building is completed and others will be planted elsewhere in the hospital.