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CBHSSJB Launches Home Hemodialysis in the Cree Community of Waswanipi


Home hemodialysis services launch in the Cree community of Waswanipi, using easy to operate, portable equipment designed for home use.


The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) is pleased to announce the launch of home hemodialysis services in the Cree community of Waswanipi, using easy to operate, portable equipment designed for home use. This service is initially a pilot project. For the first time, Waswanipi residents will be able to receive dialysis in their own homes. 

This is an important step for patients in Eeyou Istchee, where type 2 diabetes affects 26.7% of the population over the age of 20.  The disease can eventually lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis. 

Currently, there are 68 people on dialysis in the Cree Territory of Eeyou Istchee. Hemodialysis is currently available in only two of nine communities of Eeyou Istchee (Mistissini and Chisasibi).  For those in the other seven communities, this means travelling for hours every week to the nearest centre that offers dialysis. Some people need to leave their community permanently. Increasing access to dialysis in every community is one of the key objectives of the CBHSSJB Strategic Regional Plan 2016-2021.  

Home dialysis is a relatively new technology with great potential for remote northern communities. Waswanipi was chosen as the site for the pilot because the nearest hospital where dialysis is available is in Chibougamau, a three-hour round trip by car. The Cree Nation of Waswanipi also has stable and safe water supply, which is essential for dialysis. 

Dr. François Charette, Director of Medical Affairs and Services of CBHSSJB, says, “The new service will not only reduce travelling time and cost, but also increase the quality of patients’ lives.”

Lightweight and simple to operate, the home hemodialysis machines will be set up at patients’ homes. After a few weeks of training at the Montreal General Hospital, the pilot project participants will be ready to return home with their machines, which they will operate themselves with support from CBHSSJB clinical staff.

The service will be piloted over the next eight months. If the pilot is a success, the home dialysis will be made available in other communities of Eeyou Istchee.

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