North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) chairman Dr Andy Bhagwandass said the newly opened Nephrology (Kidney) Unit “evolved out of necessity because 450 new people need dialysis every year”.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan declared the multi-million state-of-the-art Nephrology Unit open at Port of Spain General Hospital, on August 7. It is located in the Haemodialysis Unit at the medical institution.
Among those present were general manager Nursing and Patient Services Cecelia Hutson, NWRHA chief executive officer Judith Balliram, head of Nephrology Unit Dr Emille Mohammed and Chief Medical officer Dr Colin Furlonge.
Dialysis is a mechanism by which a machine replaces the function of the kidney to get rid of toxins in the kidney. The blood enters the haemodialysis machine which filters and rids the body of the toxins that have built up and would have been got rid of by functioning kidneys.
“The unit had replaced five stations which serviced the entire North East region and a manual system for the delivery of water to the dialysis units. We have a more technically advanced water system. These machines are dedicated to HIV patients so it reduces the incidence of infections being passed on. There are dedicated dialysis machines for HIV patients. It prevents other patients from becoming infected. HIV testing is being discreetly done. Patient confidentiality is paramount in our service,” said Bhagwandass.
While delivering the feature address, Khan boasted about the unit's equipment, including 12 dialysis chairs, a filtration plant, a special section for HIV positive patients and again lauded the unit's potable (consumable) water system for patients who are confined to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Khan also lamented the rise in obesity, hypertension and diabetes (non-communicable diseases) and the need for primary prevention in the population.
“Our obesity epidemic has been increasing over the last ten years. You have complications, including cardiac diseases. We need to educate the population about ‘Fight The Fat'. I want to commend Dr Furlonge for having the foresight. I have plans to introduce a 100-bed unit at Eric Williams (Mt Hope) and at San Fernando General hospitals.”
The Minister also said he envisioned the unit would be a training and teaching ground for nurses, doctors and technicians in an effort to promote optimum health care for everyone.
Dr Mohammed said the hospital administrators had recognised kidney disease was a big problem and had moved swiftly to ensure people enjoyed longevity and quality lives.
Balliram thanked Furlonge for his vision.