EDMONTON -- Edmonton's first community dialysis facility is now open, changing how patients with acute renal failure receive care.

Dialysis patients in the city can now access services outside the hospital.

"It’s a lot quieter,” 79-year-old patient Shirley Stevenson said in a written release. "I like the individual pods and the privacy we get here."

The West Edmonton Kidney Care facility pods have Wi-Fi access, in-ceiling heating and a personal television.

Parking is free for patients, many of whom receive treatment three times a week, four hours at a time.

"It's a real burden for people," said Dr. Branko Braam, Edmonton zone chief for nephrology with Alberta Health Services. "It's great that we have it so that we can replace kidney function, but it is not a pleasant procedure to have."

Braam said the new facility, which AHS has been developing for five years, is a much different space.

"It doesn't feel as medical as when you come to the university hospital," he said.

The University of Alberta Hospital began transitioning outpatients on Nov. 30. Up to 210 patients can dialyze in a single day at the new facility.

Alberta Kidney Care – North serves more than 1,100 dialysis outpatients and 450 home dialysis patients.

During dialysis, waste products and extra fluid are filtered from the patient's blood as it is slowly pumped through the dialyzer and then back into their body.

People usually remain on dialysis for the rest of their lives or until they have a successful kidney transplant.

The $11.4-million project was funded in part by University Hospital Foundation, which raised $2.125 million for equipment and furniture.