September 07, 2023 in National

On the 10th anniversary of its inception, the Hemodialysis Unit at the JNF General Hospital opened its doors to the wider public today (Wednesday, September 06), giving citizens and residents an up-close and personal look at the day-to-day operations of this critical arm of healthcare services in St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Open Day exercise formed part of the activities being held in observance of Hemodialysis Week from September 03 to 10. The week of activities is organized in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hemodialysis Unit on September 06, 2013, under the leadership of Her Excellency Dame Marcella Liburd, then Minister of Health, and former Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas.

Assistant Nurse Manager of the Hemodialysis Unit, Ms. Wendy Smithen, praised the vision of former Prime Minister Dr. Douglas ten years ago for ensuring that citizens and residents have access to affordable care.

Ms. Smithen also commended current Prime Minister and Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew for “his presence now and for always being available whenever called upon, and also for supporting us with this week of activities.”

The assistant nurse manager used the occasion of the Open Day to advise persons in St. Kitts and Nevis about the importance of early detection.

“Some of the risk factors for end-stage renal disease are hypertension and diabetes, polycystic kidney disease, lupus and sickle cell anemia disease. I would just like to take this opportunity to urge persons who are diabetic or hypertensive to get their checks from the doctors. I would also like to urge the doctors and private physicians that if you have patients and their kidney functions are elevated to please send them to the nephrology clinic on Thursdays at the JNF Hospital. This would eliminate patients coming to us very ill and very late. Once we get them very early it would be better for us and we will be better able to manage these patients,” Ms. Smithen said.

Mr. Fitzroy Warner, a patient of the Hemodialysis Unit, dispelled any negative connotations persons may have about hemodialysis treatment. He also reiterated the call for persons to visit their doctors regularly for checkups.

He said, “Since dialysis, I’m doing a lot better. Most of us [who are being treated at the unit] are doing a lot better. When your kidneys stop functioning, your blood doesn’t get cleaned and once your blood doesn’t get cleaned you start to feel very sick. You experience nausea, vomiting, and stuff like that, but once your blood starts to get cleaned you start feeling a lot better. So, I am urging people to go to their doctor, do regular checks on your kidneys because once you know what’s going on early and you know the symptoms, you can deal with it.”

Understanding the importance of hemodialysis care in St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. Drew-led administration upgraded the unit with the acquisition of fifteen hemodialysis machines in May of this year. The donation of the machines by St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada was facilitated by Mr. Charles Estridge, a biomedical engineer from St. Kitts, who resides in Canada.

Moreover, Mr. Estridge led a group of his colleagues on a visit to the Federation where they provided extensive training for the staff of the hemodialysis unit to ensure that the equipment would be effectively utilized.