Work to start on renal dialysis service for Kowanyama

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Artist’s impression of the Kowanyama dialysis unit.

Cairns-based HC Building & Construction has been named the successful tenderer for the construction of a four-chair assisted renal haemodialysis unit at Kowanyama.

The new $4.5 million unit will be built adjacent to the existing Kowanyama Primary Healthcare Centre and will include consultation and storage rooms and a state-of-the-art communications room, in addition to the four-chair renal dialysis unit.

Work on the new unit will start later this month (August) and construction is expected to be completed and the unit operational in early 2024.

The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service is developing a model of care that will allow haemodialysis services at Kowanyama to be delivered with the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners with advanced training in kidney health.

The health service already has an Advanced Kidney Health Practitioner at the Thursday Island dialysis unit and is training another for Bamaga.

We are also developing a training pathway for other Indigenous Health Practitioners to build skills to support all our health service’s remote dialysis services and other specialist services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners can provide a range of primary health care and clinical activities, including administering medicines, arranging referrals, assisting with sexual health and oral health checks, and delivering immunisations.

They can also ensure the teams they work with deliver care in a culturally safe and suitable manner.

The Kowanyama haemodialysis unit will be the fifth assisted dialysis unit in the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service region, with units already established at Thursday Island, Weipa, Cooktown, and Bamaga.

However, not all patients requiring dialysis are able to have their dialysis in one of the Torres and Cape HHS haemodialysis units.

Due to the complexity of their conditions and the clinical requirement for them to have immediate access to highly specialised kidney services that are not available in the Torres and Cape HHS, there may always be some patients who will need to relocate permanently to Cairns, or another large centre, to access those services.

But for those deemed clinically suitable, the availability of assisted dialysis services across five health facilities in the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area and on Cape York is a major improvement in their lives.

For all services available please visit Kowanyama Primary Health Care Centre.