SHAWVILLE – After more than a decade of community fundraising, Pontiac residents were invited, December 8, to the Pontiac Community Hospital’s (PCH) open house for the facility’s new Dialysis Unit. “It’s a day for the people of the Pontiac to see what they have achieved. Just about everyone played a role in fundraising for this project,” said Allan Dean, PCH Foundation board member.
The Unit opened for business December 10, and can accept up to 10 clients per day as currently funded. Each treatment takes about four hours, three times a week,
so bookings are for the morning or afternoon within two schedules: Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There are
currently 17 patients, with more expected soon.
The Unit has seven treatment stations, which can accept a maximum of 24 patients. Clinical Coordinator Melanie Breton explained that in the last two years, there hasn’t been more than 20 people from the area needing dialysis treatment, so the Unit can accommodate local need if it expands in the future.
“[Seeing the new unit] is very emotional for a lot of people and it certainly
represents an improvement in the quality of life of patients,” said Breton, who explained the Shawville site can video-link with a nephrologist (kidney specialist) in Hull should the need arise, and the specialist will see patients in Shawville once a month.
In addition to significantly improving the quality of life for dialysis patients, there
are important ripple effects for the wider community. Sylvie Bertrand, TransporAction Pontiac Director, explained: “We can now keep our vehicles within our territory a lot more. Drivers will be able to drop off clients in Shawville and then do other runs before picking them up instead of being tied up all day, six days a week, in Hull. This means improved local service and less stress on our drivers and passengers, especially in the winter when the roads are bad,” she said.
The Foundation identified the Dialysis Unit as a priority eleven years
ago, stressing that locally available dialysis treatment would save travel time for patients and their families, who had to make the return trip to Gatineau many times a week, and sometimes be there for the entire day.
Since then, just over $660,000 was raised through donations and a wide variety of fundraising events. “Key players in keeping the fundraising campaign going were our president, Richard Grimard and vice-president, Donald Lavallée,” said Dr. Tom O’Neill, who is also a Foundation member.
The long wait ended in June 2017 when then Québec Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette, visited the Pontiac Rception Center in Shawville to announce the province would invest $2.1 million to make the Dialysis Unit a reality. Construction began shortly after.