GRIQUET — The family of an 80-year-old man suffering from kidney problems is trying to find out why he has to drive from his home in the St. Anthony area to Corner Brook twice a week to receive dialysis treatments.
Back in June, Roland Peyton suffered complications when one of his kidneys shut down and the other started operating at a lowered capacity. He was taken into St. John's and released July 11, needing regular dialysis treatments twice weekly. But the local hospital in St. Anthony told them they could not offer the treatment because of either a lack of staffing or funding.
So now the family has to drive down Route 430 on Tuesdays and Saturdays to Western Regional Memorial Hospital to has his dialysis treatments.
Peyton's son, Darren, visiting from Kitchener, Ont., called it a "really bad situation."
"Any benefits from the dialysis, the trip is just taking them right out," said Darren. "The hospital here hasn't done anything, they just seem to be giving us the runaround."
Darren said his father has to get up at 6 a.m. for the long roadtrip. Roland is very tired once he gets there, then has to go through the procedure, which takes even more energy from him. He sleeps the rest of the day, then has to be awakened early the next morning for the trip back.
Along with the physical strain, the Peytons have to incur expenses such as meals and gas, and of course, there's the added stress of moose or other wildlife on the highway.
"He's 80," said Darren. "It really takes it out of him for the rest of the week, and he has to do it all over again on Saturday."
Darren's sister, Deann Wyatt, said she's hearing it's a staffing issue from the area's MHA Christopher Mitchelmore.
"We've been told they don't have the funding to open up the rest (of the dialysis unit)," she said. "They have the equipment there, but there's no funding and we've been passed back and forth all over the place."
Mitchelmore said he is looking into the situation, and that the Peyton family is not alone. He said he has heard of others who have had to travel to Corner Brook, as well as St. John's and even to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
The MHA said the hospital has six machines, which can be operated twice daily for six days a week, and that if the resources were in place, the unit can provide treatment for up to 24 patients per week. It currently takes 16, and Mitchelmore said he remembers when the dialysis unit was operating at three days per week, serving 12 patients weekly.
"This is evidence to me that it's a staffing issue," said Mitchelmore. "Dialysis is a vital service, people simply need it, and having to commute is very stressful, especially for seniors."
Hospital officials would not comment, but in a statement said the Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital opened five years ago with a goal to offer specialized services to dialysis clients closer to their home communities. In the provincial budget the Department of Health and Community Services did fund additional staffing to facility expansion of the service to accommodate an additional four clients that had been on the wait list for some time. The unit is now operating at full capacity, utilizing all staffing and resources that are currently available.