PEI

Newfoundland man denied dialysis for P.E.I. vacation

A Newfoundland man who has been planning a vacation to P.E.I. for months has been left disappointed by Health PEI.

'It absolutely has tainted my image of Prince Edward Island and how they accommodate people like myself'

Visiting patients will be put on a long wait list in P.E.I. (IStock)

A Newfoundland man who has been planning a vacation to P.E.I. for months has been left disappointed by Health PEI.

Vincent Andrews has been on kidney dialysis for a little more than three years, and needs treatment three times a week.

Vincent Andrews (pictured here with his son) can't believe the province won't accommodate travelers (submitted)

Six months ago he contacted P.E.I.'s renal program asking to arrange for service for his August vacation. He was told it would be several weeks before he would know if they could help him. In May, he was told there would be no space for him. 

"It absolutely has tainted my image of Prince Edward Island and how they accommodate people like myself." he said. 

"I was naive enough to think, 'OK, with a tourism destination like P.E.I., knowing there will be, you know, thousands of people traveling there in the summer, they would make whatever arrangements, put whatever resources are in place for whatever number of transient dialysis patients they had for the summer."

Islanders have to be first

Andrews said he has travelled before to Moncton and even Florida and had no problem, arranging treatments in advance.

Dozens of people like myself are now being told basically you can't come here, you're not welcome here.- Vincent Andrews

Health PEI said it is clear on their website that there is no guarantee that out-of-province patients will be able to have treatment while visiting Prince Edward Island. In a written response, Health PEI explained that they have to treat Islanders first, something they are struggling with.

"The provincial renal program is experiencing a growing demand for hemodialysis from Island patients whose kidney disease requires immediate treatment. There are currently 104 Islanders receiving hemodialysis treatment at one of four dialysis sites across the province; in fact, two patients began receiving treatment this week and we expect four new starts in the coming days. We are currently at or just shy of full capacity." the statement said. 

The province said they provide out-of-province guests with notice well in advance of their travel date that they won't be able to accommodate them, and offer to place them on the waiting list.

Wait list is too long, says Andrews

Andrews is now on that list, which, at last count, is at 46 people. That number upsets Andrews, who is an advocate for dialysis in St. John's. He said he tries to live his life to the fullest despite his condition, including traveling, and tries to encourage others to do the same.

He worries situations like the one on P.E.I. will discourage more patients from leaving home.

"Dozens of people like myself are now being told basically you can't come here, you're not welcome here. Essentially we can`t accommodate you, we can't take care of you." he said.

Trip will now cost him more

After organizing his trip for months and putting money into vacation house rentals, Andrews and his family have decided to go through with the vacation, but he won't be able to relax as much as he wanted. He had to make arrangements to travel to Moncton for his treatments.

I'm essentially going to be losing three of my seven vacation days.- Vincent Andrews

"The entire dialysis treatment process takes about five hours. I have now a four-hour commute, two hours in each direction approximately. So I'm essentially going to be losing three of my seven vacation days in P.E.I. by travelling to Moncton." he said. 

Andrews has been in touch with several people at Health PEI, including CEO Michael Mayne and the premier's office. He has not gotten the response he has wanted yet — an appointment — but he is scheduled to have a one-on-one conversation with Mayne. He has asked if he will be compensated for his travel to Moncton. Health PEI told CBC that is not their policy, but Andrew's could contact his home province about their assistance plans.

More access coming

Health PEI said they are making moves to improve access to dialysis.

They have established a new program that would allow patients to receive treatment at home, and have increased supports for pre-kidney transplant work up in order to reduce the wait times. There are also plans to add an additional evening shift at the Charlottetown QEH clinic. Nurses have been hired and are in training.

It is expected that that service will be running by the end of summer. 

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