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$2M provincial medical machine sits idle over staffing issues
Published Tuesday, September 21, 2010 6:17PM MDT
A $2 million mobile dialysis unit assigned to Lac La Biche sits idle because the province hasn't been able to find staff to operate it. And because of this, one resident is forced to travel hours by car to another town for kidney dialysis.
"There are many others in the Lac La Biche area who have to undergo the same agony and anguish, duress, it's just fundamentally wrong," said Tom MacCagno who travels from Lac La Biche to St. Paul for dialysis each week.
He believed his lengthy trek to St. Paul would be over after he saw a mobile kidney dialysis bus show up in his community. But the bus soon disappeared and is currently not being used in Spruce Grove.
"We're waiting to be able to hire staff and we poster up in Lac La Biche and haven't been successful," said Jeff Foster with Alberta Health Services.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says there is a process to hiring staff.
"If we can't hire them locally we will have to hire people who will travel with the bus or travel to the particular location to offer the services."
Back in 2008, the province said the mobile unit was being introduced as a way to improve access for rural communities.
But critics argue that the province's plan clearly isn't working.
"Alberta Health has just got to solve the problem and not leaving it parked in the wrong town, not being utilized. They're the ones that need to ensure the staff is well trained, that they are available," said Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason.
MacCagno's wife says the pair is getting tired of the routine commute, but do what is necessary for Tom's health.
"It's kind of a chore but you do what you have to do. I hope I don't have to do the drive this winter," said Annette MacCagno.
Job postings for the mobile unit in Lac La Biche have been up since the spring.
With files from Serena Mah