Renal support growing in Bulkley Valley

In his biannual address to Smithers council, Northern Health Bulkley Valley District Hospital Health Service Administrator Cormac Hikisch made some exciting news when it comes to developing renal services in Smithers, including dialysis.

In his biannual address to Smithers council, Northern Health Bulkley Valley District Hospital Health Service Administrator Cormac Hikisch made some exciting news when it comes to developing renal services in Smithers, including dialysis.

Dialysis is one of the final stages in managing chronic kidney disease, Hikisch noted, and can currently be done at home until the stage of the disease gets to such a level that it requires more professional care.

Available facilities for care are in Terrace and Fort St. John.

As the disease progresses further, the patients may need to go to a regional program, such as the one in Prince George.

“As chronic kidney disease progresses to more difficult stages, the requirements for staffing, training, specialists and equipment becomes more and more necessary,” Hikisch said.

But putting a regional centre in every community just isn’t possible, Hikisch said. For quite some time this has been a concern for Smithers council, who don’t like to see people forced to relocate from their home communities because of the lack of services here.

Finding a solution has been one of their priorities for quite some time, and recently, they’ve had a breakthrough.

Following a discussion in Smithers with Mayor Cress Farrow, Councillor Joanne Groves, NH VP of Medicine David Butcher and Dr. Malcolm Ogborn, the Director of Northern Renal Services, a steering committee has been created.

“We talked of Northern Health’s desire to establish a northern renal strategy,” Hikisch said.

The hope and objective would to be help understand chronic kidney disease and to establish a northern program that fits with the uniqueness of the north and the need for services.

This would cover our remote areas and our geographical constraints,” Hikisch said.

The steering committee will be looking at developing the strategy that will include community consultation.

“It will be important to get an understanding of the needs of renal strategy across the north, where things are working well and where there might be gaps,” Hikisch said.

The committee will also be looking at setting up a network within communities throughout the northwest to create a framework as well.

“Dialysis is a big concern for Smithers and every other community in the north,” Hikisch said.