JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
NIAGARA FALLS – It’s the first of it’s kind in Niagara and a model for the rest of Ontario.
On Friday, Niagara Health System officials, staff patients and local politicians gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony making completion of the new Niagara Falls Kidney Care Centre.
The 18,000-square-foot facility, which is located on the second floor of the Hatch office building on Queen Street, is a standalone diaylis treatment centre, which is designed to accomodate some 17,000 treatments a year.
The centre, which is unique in Niagara and Ontario, is meant to deliver care closer to home fr more than 100 patients, who would otherwise have to travel to St. Catharines or Welland to receive the life-saving treatment.
It will also serve the needs of tourists to Niagara, who are in need of dialysis treatment while on vacation or here for business.
The facility, which opens March 4, has room to grow.
And grow it will, said Dr. Anthony Broski, noting the demand for dialysis treatment is expected to increase substantially in the coming years.
“The prevalence of kidney disease is increasing in Niagara and we know that demand will continue to increase in the future,” said Broski.
“Patients attend dialysis three times a week for four- to five-hour sessions. “This is a demanding schedule. A kidney transplant is the only option that frees patients from the restriction of dialysis. To receive care closer to home for these patients and their families will be significant.”
Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, a longtime advocate of creating a satellite dialysis centre in Niagara Falls, said establishing a standalone facility was not an easy task politically.
There were some at the outset several years ago who said the centre should be located inside Greater Niagara General hospital.
Dialysis centres in St. Catharines and Welland are co-located at hospitals in those communities.
But putting the centre at GNGH would have required expensive and time consuming renovations to the hospital.
“There were some people who said you can’t build it if you don’t put it in the hospital,” said Craitor. “I said we don’t have time for that.”
Craitor called the state-of-the-art facility “spectacular.”
“I’m really pleased,” Craitor said addressing the audience gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “For the patients who are here, I’m so happy for you.”
The centre was made possible through $3.3 million in provincial funding, plus large financial committments from private, business and community-based donors, the Greater Niagara General Hospital Foundation and the Niagara Health System Foundation.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said the centre is a welcome addition to Queen Street, which is already home to the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre.
It’s one more piece of the puzzle in ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown area, which was once the thriving commercial hub of the city.
Diodati promised “a lot more really exciting announcements” about downtown revitalization in the near future.
Diodati, who once among the harshest critics of the Niagara Health System, also used the occasion to praise the organization for its efforts at rebuilding community trust and focusing on better patient care and services.
The NHS was placed under provincial supervison in August 2011 by Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, a move that replace the NHS board with a government-appointed administrator.
“We have a new relationship with the NHS,” said Diodati. “We’ve come a long way from where we were with the NHS.”