Skip links and keyboard navigation

TI renal dialysis unit officially opened

More Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area residents will be able to receive treatment on Thursday Island as a new renal dialysis unit gradually expands.

Department of Health Director-General Michael Walsh said the new dialysis unit had started operations with two patients in early March.

"A third patient has since also started treatment on Thursday Island and more will follow as the unit gradually expands over the next 12 months," he said.

"They will be able to have their treatment right here on Thursday Island, closer to their families and friends, rather than having to relocate to Cairns or elsewhere."

Mr Walsh was on Thursday Island today to officially open the new renal dialysis unit in the Community Wellness Centre, adjacent to the hospital.

He said the unit’s first two patients had earlier moved to Cairns for dialysis but were able to return when the Thursday Island unit became operational.

"A third patient joined them shortly after, who was able to go directly on dialysis here on Thursday Island when the need arose, without having to go to Cairns at all," he said.

“This is great news for the Torres Strait region.

"There is no doubt about the need for this unit up here in the Torres Strait region.

"A total of 388 Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area residents are currently estimated to have some form of chronic kidney disease and many of these eventually will require dialysis.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders also are four times more likely to die from chronic kidney disease than non-Indigenous Queenslanders."

Mr Walsh said the Thursday Island renal dialysis unit currently had three dialysis chairs in operation and the capacity to treat up to six patients.

"Gradually, the unit will build up to its full capacity of six chairs that will allow up to 24 patients to be dialysed," he said.

Nurse-assisted dialysis normally requires at least three sessions a week, with each session lasting about five hours.

"Before this year, nurse-assisted dialysis was just not available in the Torres Strait region," Mr Walsh said.

"Anyone needing this specialised service has had to move permanently to the Cairns region or another large centre where nurse-assisted dialysis is available.

"Currently, 12 Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area residents are in the Cairns region receiving nurse-assisted dialysis treatment."

Mr Walsh said not all Torres Strait renal dialysis patients living in Cairns would be able to return to Thursday Island for treatment.

"Some patients may not be able to return due to the complexity of their conditions and the clinical requirement for them to have immediate access to highly specialised kidney services in Cairns that are not available in the Torres Strait," he said.

"And some patients may not be able to make suitable accommodation arrangements to live on Thursday Island.

"And of course, there are those patients who, having made the big move to Cairns, will want to continue living in Cairns and not want to return to the Torres Strait at all.

"However, for those who are clinically suitable to return, who want to return and who can make permanent accommodation arrangements on Thursday Island, they will be able progressively to be treated here, as well as other clinically suitable new dialysis patients."

Last updated: 19 August 2015