Patients have now begun treatment in the brand new $2 million renal dialysis unit at Moree District Hospital, which was opened last week.
The first patients were treated in the new state-of-the-art facility on Wednesday morning.
“It’s fantastic for the Moree Health Service to have the renal dialysis unit operating and functioning as it is,” Hunter New England Health Mehi Sector general manager David Quirk said.
“It’s a beautiful building, it gives the staff the physical environment to provide safe and great quality care.
“It’s open, it’s airy, it’s beautiful to be in. For the patients though, it must be even greater in that they’ve got a lovely modern environment, it’s comfortable, there’s lots of air and space, all the things that weren’t apparent in the old unit.
“It’s open slightly ahead of what we expected, which is even better. It’s gone to plan, every step of the way.”
Renal nurse unit manager Jodie Slack-Smith said so far the response has been positive from both patients and staff.
“It’s fantastic for both patients and staff,” she said.
“The space they have now, it’s more comfortable. They can put their feet out, sit back and relax. There’s also more privacy.
“There’s room for relatives and loved ones to come and sit by the patient’s side; they couldn’t do that before.”
The new facility has expanded Moree Hospital’s renal dialysis services from five chairs to eight. It also includes an isolation room for people that require special treatment, a nurses station, staff room and bathroom facilities.
“We didn’t have our own staff room or bathrooms before, it was shared,” Ms Slack-Smith said.
“It’s just the little things, like our own lockers. There’s just more space. It’s also light and bright and we can see the outside world.”
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall visited the new facility on Friday, along with local councillors and members of the Moree Renal Support committee.
He said the unit heralds a new era for renal treatment in Moree.
“This new unit has been built with the future health care needs of the Moree district in mind, equipped with three extra chairs so we can meet present demands but also critically, what we know will be growing renal patient numbers,” he said.
The first sod for the unit was turned in April after Mr Marshall had mounted a campaign for the project funding on the back of a demonstrated demand and need for a new modern facility that could treat more patients.
“The old unit was cramped, at capacity and in high demand that couldn’t be met and that forced many to travel long distances for treatment or even buy home dialysis equipment,” Mr Marshall said.
“And for many patients with end-stage chronic kidney disease home treatment just wasn’t an option either, and for others, the cost and access of going out of town for treatment was prohibitive and problematic.
“Until this unit, we had many locals who had been forced to endure a six-hour round trip to Tamworth three times a week for dialysis treatment, so this is a huge improvement for people in that situation.”
Maurice Green has been receiving dialysis for the past seven years. He requires treatment three days a week and said the new facility is great.
“It’s very nice,” he said.
“There are good views and it’s not crowded. I can stretch out more. It makes it a lot easier to come in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
Fellow patient Vincent Condran travels from Narrabri three times a week for six hours of dialysis treatment a day.
Spending so much time in the unit, Mr Condran said it’s great the new facility is more comfortable and quieter than the old one.
“There’s plenty of room and it’s quieter,” he said.
“The old one was next to the maternity rooms, so you could hear babies crying all the time. I can’t hear anything now.”
Moree Renal Support committee treasurer Lola Shearer has been campaigning for renal dialysis in Moree since 2001 when the committee raised $60,000 for the original five-chair unit which was built in 2002. Since then, the committee has donated more than $400,000 to the renal dialysis unit and Moree Hospital.
Ms Shearer was very impressed with the new facilities.
“I think it’s absolutely fabulous,” she said.
“This will make a hell of a difference. They won’t have to travel and they won’t be squished in like sardines like there were in the other building.”
Mr Quirk said the hospital is very grateful for the ongoing support of the Renal Support committee, and thanked the staff, the Hunter New England Health renal service and all those involved in bringing the new unit to life.