New dialysis unit announced for Murwillumbah Hospital

June’s helpers Daphne and Cathie with June Purnell (left) and Acting Executive Officer Athol Webb, Northern NSW local Health District board Dr John Moran, Thomas George MP and Emergency Dept Nursing Manager Wendy Park.

MURWILLUMBAH LOCAL June Purnell has clocked up thousands of kilometres during the past three years traveling to The Tweed Hospital to receive her vital renal dialysis treatments.

Mrs Purnell, who has lived in Murwillumbah for the past 77 years, has required the treatment three time per week. She has been forced to rely on two carers including her daughter Cathie Franken to provide her with transport each week to receive the treatments.

But her situation, alongside dozens of other locals, is set to improve once the new six-chair satellite renal dialysis unit comes online at Murwillumbah Hospital soon.

The renal dialysis unit will be built at Murwillumbah District Hospital following the NSW Ministry of Health announcement of $400,000 funding for the unit.

It’s a huge boost for the Murwillumbah District Hospital which last year had downsized its maternity ward to treat non-cesarean and low risk births only.

State member for Lismore Thomas George MP met with hospital staff, Mrs Purnell and The Weekly on Friday, September 9, to make the announcement.

Mrs Purnell will still be required to attend The Tweed Hospital for dialysis until such time as the unit is up and running with estimates the unit could come online by early 2017.

The service will be a satellite service of the Tweed Byron Health Service Group Renal Dialysis Service, which currently provides in-centre and home-based renal dialysis services to the residents of the Tweed Local Government Area (LGA), Byron LGA and residents of the southern Gold Coast Service Level Agreements.

“The $400,000 funding from NSW Health will provide the opportunity to commence the planning and design consultation phase for a purpose-built facility to address the need for in-centre renal dialysis in the Murwillumbah area,” Mr George said.

“This funding will enable the establishment of a six-chair Renal Dialysis Unit at MDH to provide in-centre haemodialysis to patients with stable, dialysis-dependent kidney disease.”
NNSW LHD Chief Executive Wayne Jones said this was great news for those local renal dialysis patients who currently travel to The Tweed Hospital for treatment.

“Once completed, a local dialysis unit at MDH will give back a huge amount of time to these patients that I am sure they will welcome,” Mr Jones said.

“The Tweed Valley population growth and the growing ageing population, combined with the significant Aboriginal population, have all contributed to an increasing prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the region which supports the development of the satellite renal dialysis service at MDH.”

Mrs Purnell said she was pleased the Murwillumbah District Hospital was being recognised with this funding and the provision of services such as renal dialysis.

“It’s something myself and other local people rely on,” she said.

“And having to drive to The Tweed Hospital for such a long time has taken its toll both physically and financially, we’re really pleased this announcement has been made, I just hope it gets installed as soon as possible.”

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