Health Minister Roger Cook today announced that renal dialysis services in the Kimberley would be significantly bolstered with up to $97 million worth of contracted services in renal dialysis and essential support services across the region and the continuation of interim mobile dialysis and expanded home dialysis facilities.
A contract for up to $97 million for up to five years has been awarded to Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services to continue to operate renal dialysis chairs in Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and Kununurra.
The awarding of the contract follows the announcement of more than $1 million for an interim Mobile Dialysis Unit to visit Halls Creek, Bidyadanga, Kutjunka and other communities, and to expand dialysis facilities in Halls Creek in partnership with Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and Yura Yungi Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation.
In addition to ensuring the services to current renal patients will continue, the funding is expected to support an additional 28 patients to return to the Kimberley from Perth. There is scope for a further 27 to return should that be required.
Renal dialysis is required by patients with end-stage kidney disease, usually for three times a week for four hours at a time. Providing dialysis chairs and hostel accommodation on country is critical for Aboriginal people from remote areas, who have incidence rates of end-stage kidney disease up to 30 times higher than the national incidence rate.
The Minister visited Fitzroy Crossing, where he officially opened the Commonwealth-funded $7.22 million 20-bed renal hostel and $3.7 million four-chair dialysis unit.
The facilities which started operating late last year have been helping more locals return to country, with 16 patients using the dialysis chairs and several patients making their new homes in the purpose-built, culturally safe hostel.
The Minister inspected the completed facilities and met hostel residents Lizzie Ford and Pauline Chiguna. Utilising the services, Lizzie has been able to return home to Fitzroy Crossing from Derby, and Pauline from Broome.
As well as improving the wellbeing of communities by helping more people to stay on country, the facilities are providing employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people. The team of support staff at the renal hostel have been employed through the Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation.
The Fitzroy Crossing renal hostel and dialysis unit, along with a 20-bed renal hostel in Derby, were constructed by the Western Australian Country Health Service as part of the Commonwealth Government’s $45.8 million Bringing Renal Dialysis and Support Services Closer to Home project.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“It was a pleasure to be welcomed into Lizzie and Pauline’s new home today, to meet the residents and to learn how they and their families are benefiting from being able to stay on country.
“Our commitment of $97 million to safeguard Kimberley renal services for up to five years is evidence of our unwavering commitment to improving Aboriginal health in very remote areas.
“For Aboriginal people, being able to access health services close to home, on country, can mean the difference between choosing treatment or saying no – with potentially devastating consequences for the individual, their loved ones, the community and indeed, the wider health system.
“Providing access to services closer to home is all part of putting patients first.
“It’s important that we recognise the Commonwealth Government’s contribution in the Bringing Renal Dialysis and Support Services Closer to Home initiative. It’s vital that we all work together to improve health outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities.”
As stated by Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer:
“In addition to the $97 million funding, providing a renal chair to Halls Creek and getting the mobile dialysis bus on the road will further enhance the support offered to Aboriginal renal patients.
“The mobile dialysis bus is a vital health initiative I campaigned for so I’m pleased the McGowan Government delivered on it.
“The facilities here at Fitzroy Crossing are a great example of how the McGowan Government puts patients first. Its significant investment in renal services will help individual patients remain active and vital members of their community, not only improving individual health, but helping to build community wellbeing for the future.”