District throws support behind dialysis unit

Municipalities across Rainy River District have thrown their support with Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. in hopes of getting a satellite dialysis unit at La Verendrye hospital here.
The resolution, forwarded by the Township of Morley, was passed at Saturday’s annual meeting of the Rainy River District Municipal Association in Rainy River.
It calls upon Health minister Elizabeth Witmer to do “everything in her power” to establish a fully-funded dialysis unit here through Thunder Bay Regional Hospital.
Dawson clerk Pat Giles, who also sits on the Riverside board, said they also are asking individuals to write the ministry in support of the project.
“Those [government] addresses have been circulated to the hospitals,” Giles said, urging people to feel free and get them.
Riverside CEO Wayne Woods echoed Giles’ sentiments, saying the hospital board has to push getting the dialysis unit “through the background” in the form of letters from the public.
That, combined with the fact 16 district residents have to go to Thunder Bay or Winnipeg right now for dialysis, should help show the ministry it’s a needed service here.
“And I’m getting some pretty good indications that we will get it,” Woods said.
Still, getting a dialysis unit here won’t be cheap, Woods admitted, estimating it will take about a half-million dollars to convert part of La Verendrye for such a unit.
And staff also will have to be trained to operate the equipment, he added, hoping Thunder Bay Regional Hospital would be able to do that.
Woods stressed the importance of not putting this project on the backburner, noting Riverside got the approval to put such a unit in five or six years ago, then lost it without warning.
“We’re trying to move as quickly as possible [on this],” he pledged.
The combined support behind the dialysis unit came shortly after Rainy River Mayor Gordon Armstrong welcomed delegates with a message of district unity.
“I noticed this morning our conference doesn’t have a title,” he said. “Might I suggest to you this title: ‘The Future is Togetherness.’”
Mayor Armstrong said district municipalities have to practice “in your face” politics, where delegates from the different areas are up front and honest with one another.
“Years ago, when I first got involved in politics, everything was done behind the scenes. It was a mess,” Mayor Armstrong remarked. “Nobody in this district worked together and it was a dog-eat-dog fashion.
“Our future is trying to grow,” he stressed. “Our future is what is good for Emo is good for Rainy River is good for Fort Frances.”