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The Independent Voice of
Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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26 April, 2021

Urgent call for dialysis in the Central West

PEOPLE pay taxes, rates, vote, donate to the community, some even provide active service to the country, yet some are still forced to leave their homes and their township to seek treatment for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

By Kate Kiernan

John Hayward receiving dialysis at home pictured with nurses Sarah Ware, Erin McGovern and David Jenkins. PHOTO: Kate Kiernan

Dialysis is a treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine.  

This machine acts as a filtration system when the kidneys can no longer do their job.  

At present there are no working dialysis machines located in western Queensland, with the closet machines located in Mount Isa and Rockhampton.  

Last Wednesday a dialysis machine arrived in Longreach, making it the only machine in the Central West.  

On April 10 John and Jo Hayward arrived back in Longreach with a dialysis machine after 16 months of living away from home.  

“It is very confronting to know that people have chosen to die rather than leave their homes,”  
Jo Hayward. 

Mr Hayward is dependent on the machine and needs to dialyse twice per week for five hours per session.  

With no machines available in Longreach, in order for John Hayward to live in his hometown, his wife Jo Hayward was required to learn and train under the guidance of renal nurses to be able to operate the machine at home.  

Those who are in need of dialysis must leave their homes to seek treatment in a larger city.  

Mrs Hayward said it had been a very emotionally draining and overwhelming journey but also a very rewarding experience. 

“We went to Mackay in October 2019 to learn how to operate one of these machines, we were then transferred back to Rockhampton on September 25, 2020 for further training. 

“Until we had completed the training and were confident enough to go home and carry out in home dialysis, which is a very involved and intricate process, that requires skill and comes with a huge responsibility we were unable to return home. 

“It is very confronting to know in the past people have chosen to die rather than leave their homes and community where they have spent their lives, raised their children and contributed in many ways. 

“We are very grateful to be considered for in-home hemodialysis, which is a wonderful though immensely challenging opportunity, and we are grateful that this can be an option. 

“Meaning we can stay in our beloved Longreach, close to our friends and family and the community,” said Mrs Hayward. 

The implementation of a kidney dialysis service in Longreach Hospital would assist people to stay in their own communities and the immense stress and upheaval of having to move away from home.  

“For us, to even have the support and comfort of trained renal nurse here in town would be invaluable.” 

The Hayward’s would also like to personally thank and extend their gratitude to all the doctors and nursing staff at the Mackay Renal Teaching Clinic, especially, Helen, Jennifer and Leo. 

As well nurses at the Rockhampton Renal Teaching Clinic, Jenny Anderson, Sarah Ware, Erin McGovern and David Jenkins. 

“We cannot thank the staff who have helped us on this journey enough. 

“Their dedication, their confidence and their encouragement has been incredible and they have gone above and beyond their duty,” said Mr Hayward. 

A special thankyou to Gavin Farry the past president and his committee for their support of the RSL club. 

Local resident Rosemary Champion shares the Hayward’s passion to get renal care into the community and said a dialysis machine placed in Longreach Based Hospital would be highly valuable within the community, explaining it was absolutely critical the central west was prioritised to offer this treatment. 

“There are over 1000 people needing dialysis west of the great divide, yet the nearest is in Mount Isa but there is nothing in Emerald.” 

“What about the people in Yaraka, Aramac, Muttaburra and Windorah, what happens to them? 

“We have lost so many families from the west, young married couples, retires – these people who have to walk away from their home, their business, their grandchildren the schools they know.” 

John Green, an elderly retired stockman and drover, has attended the Drovers Reunion at The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame (ASHF) for the past 30 years. 

He said many drovers with CKD, including himself were now unable to attend these reunions in Longreach.  

Mr Green, a pensioner, is willing to donate $3000 of his savings to contribute towards a dialysis facility to be established in Longreach.  

Mrs Champion believes that people in rural and remote centers are being neglected.  

“The drover's reunion has been going for over 30 years and we started with over 250 drovers, now there are so few drivers left,” said Mrs Champion. 

“If we had a dialysis unit out here, we would be able to have them out for another drover's reunion. 

“How come in the 21st century the government has to be shamed by people on pensions willing to put up that much money?” said Mrs Champion. 

Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said there was no treatment or thought about those living in the west.  

“I have been calling on dialysis machines in the central west for over five years, we need dialysis machines in outback Queensland, starting with Longreach,” he said. 

“If you need care, then you need to move to the East Coast, why can’t we receive the same care out in the west? 

“It is about time that the Labor Government fulfilled their electoral promise to place dialysis in the local communities of the Central West. 

“There are too many families that are leaving communities,” said Mr Millar. 

Currently it is estimated that one per cent of Australians (237,800 people) have kidney disease. 

A Queensland Health spokesperson said they endeavor to provide care as close to home as possible, where clinically appropriate. 

“We have made a range of dialysis service options available across Queensland, and we are constantly working to expand kidney services across the state as demand requires. 

“Patients with complex health needs, no matter where they live, can require care that can only be delivered from major tertiary hospitals, including those requiring dialysis.  

“Patients with end stage kidney disease and with less complex health needs may be able to dialyse at satellite units in suburban, regional, rural or remote locations, self-care units or via home-based and independent dialysis therapies.” 

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