Some dialysis patients in rural Alberta will no longer have to spend hours on the road driving to Edmonton for their treatment, thanks to a new mobile unit.
The $2.1-million unit consists of a bus that has been converted into a mobile dialysis centre, with six dialysis stations and satellite technology so nurses and patients can consult with doctors if necessary.
Brian Elkow, 66, usually has to hire someone to drive him three times a week from his home in Whitecourt to his dialyis appointments in Edmonton, about 180 kilometres south.
"I'm just gonna spend more time at home, and I love that," he said as he got his first look at the bus.
Dialysis is a regular treatment that removes waste and fluids from the blood for people whose kidneys have stopped working.
Starting Jan. 18, the bus will park at the local hospitals in Whitecourt and in Hinton, about 300 kilometres west of Edmonton, and hook up to the facility's water and electricity in order to provide dialysis.
Four patients in Hinton and two in Whitecourt have signed up for the program so far, but Capital Health officials say they expect those numbers to grow.
The unit is the only one outside of Quebec and was paid for by the Alberta government.