A ward at Wonthaggi Hospital is providing life-sustaining care to 21 patients from across Bass Coast every week, saving them the time, energy and money of travelling to dialysis services in Melbourne.
The Haemodialysis Ward at Bass Coast Health (BCH) provides approximately 3,276 treatments a year, cleaning toxins from the blood of patients with end-stage kidney disease. Without Haemodialysis, they would die.
The patients sit for five hours, three times a week, while their blood is filtered by a machine that fulfills the function of kidneys. The treatment is a significant impost on their lives but the alternative is far worse.
Ahead of World Kidney Day on Thursday 9 March, BCH is acknowledging our Haemodialysis patients for their endurance and our staff for their care and dedication.
Patient Greg Churchill of Inverloch has been undergoing Haemodialysis for two years. He initially travelled to Monash Health at Clayton, leaving home at 4.30am three mornings a week. He then transferred to Cranbourne and ultimately Wonthaggi when a place became available.
“It’s a magical service here. It’s just the care the nurses give you and their knowledge. They’re reassuring,” he said.
Greg enjoys the camaraderie with other patients, sharing a laugh with people he says become “like a brotherhood” after spending 1-6pm “on the needles” – a colloquial term for receiving Haemodialysis treatment.
"You could not sit here for five hours and not banter. We talk about football, what’s on the TV, what we’ve been doing,” he said.
“When you get home, you’re a bit weary but you pick up.”
Haemodialysis Ward Nurse Unit Manager Sky Martin said patients range in ages from 42 to in their eighties.
“You develop professional relationships with your patients because they come here three times a week, year after year, and the relationship is built on trust,” she said.
“To be part of people’s lives like this is a real privilege.”
The Haemodialysis Ward at Wonthaggi Hospital operates from Monday to Saturday, and is the only service of its kind in Bass Coast.
However, the new Phillip Island Community Hospital – due to open in late 2024 – will have six chairs to cater for Bass Coast residents and visitors, saving Islanders from having to travel to Wonthaggi.