Fresh hope for Spanish Town Hospital kidney patients
The donation of 10 refurbished haemodialysis machines has boosted the capacity of the Spanish Town Hospital to take on an additional 30 new patients with renal illness.
Valued at more than $28 million, the machines were donated by Renal Dynamics, a medical supply store in Florida.
The machines will be used at the Katie Hoo Haemodialysis Unit at the hospital to treat patients with kidney disease.
The devices are utilised during haemodialysis therapy, a process in which the blood is cleaned using a unique filter known as a dialyser.
At the handover ceremony on Monday, Kaindece Barrett, acting nursing manager of the renal unit, told The Gleaner that previously, the unit served 32 rostered patients daily, who were treated twice per day and across three shifts between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
With the donations, the unit will now have 20 machines. However, they are also hoping to purchase 10 brand new machines to alleviate the burden on the hospital, which also sees patients travelling from as far as St Thomas for care.
Barrett said that there were issues with the previous 10 machines with dialysis patients even staging a protest earlier in the year, upset that they were constantly out of service and had resulted in missed appointments.
In his address, South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) Chairman Wentworth Charles said that maintaining equipment in the region remained difficult at times due to the absence of contracts.
He, however, committed to ensuring that whoever is contracted to maintain these machines carry out such duties in a timely manner “because if you don’t, you will not get the full life of the equipment, so this is very important in achieving and sustaining the programme”.
Charles reported that more than 300 patients have been on the waitlist since 2016.
However, during the period August 21, 2021 to August 22, 2022, a total of 4,705 dialysis sessions were conducted.
Additionally, the hospital saw 325 cases of emergency dialysis sessions with 138 patients.
“We recognise that kidney problem has been part of the challenges we face for some time in Jamaica, and I tell you this, that the demand for dialysis has grown phenomenally,” he said.
The SERHA board chairman recalled two years ago when he served as chair of the management committee at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), he visited the hospital’s renal unit and learned that some 1,000 people were waiting to be placed on a waitlist for dialysis.
“And you couldn’t get on unless one [other patient] died. I found that very frightening, recognising what the problem was,” Charles said.
Chris Davenport, technical services manager at Renal Dynamics, is hopeful that with the donation, nurses and patients will tremendously benefit and have a fixed schedule for treatment, allowing their lives to return as close to normal as possible.
The shipping, and clearing of these machines from Florida were paid for by Food for the Poor Jamaica.
Spanish Town Hospital is one of the five public hospitals that have renal care units, having done its first dialysis in September 2009. The other hospitals include KPH, Cornwall Regional Hospital, The University Hospital of the West Indies and Mandeville Regional Hospital.