MILDURA Base Public Hospital (MBPH) has upgraded its busy Renal Unit’s Dialysis machines with nine new machines being installed to replace the existing fleet.

The changeover was carried out by an expert team from Melbourne Health − The Royal Melbourne Hospital − Dialysis Technical Services.

The older machines from the MBPH will be refurbished and put back into service at facilities closer to Melbourne, where they can be more easily maintained.

Melbourne Health manager of Dialysis Technical Services, Tony Beeston, who was in Mildura to supervise the changeover, said that his unit had been working with the Mildura Base Hospital over a long period.

“We have had an involvement with the MBH for many years, in fact, it goes back to 1989 with the old base and we have maintained that connection for all of these years,” he said.

“As technology has changed, and our role has changed quite dramatically as well.

“We have gone from single RO (reverse osmosis) systems feeding each machine, to a central RO system that creates a loop, which multiples of machines can be connected to.”

The RO is a reverse osmosis water treatment machine, which takes average grade reticulated water supplies from anywhere and treats that by the process of reverse osmosis, which produces very high-grade water which and meets the standards required for water used to make dialysate, the solution used in the dialysis treatment.

The dialysis process works to remove the impurities in patients who have acute kidney disease − renal failure − and whose own body doesn’t function normally.

The dialysis machine performs the function of providing appropriate fluid into the artificial kidney which is attached to the machine and is a single-use disposable item and that filters the toxins in the dialysis patient’s blood.

At the same time, the other function it performs, is that it creates a negative pressure effect and is able to remove the excess fluid that they would otherwise not be able to excreted.

Mr Beeston said that Melbourne Health has a contractual arrangement with the Swedish based company Baxter who supply the dialysis equipment.

“We have used their machines for 15 years now and they perform their function extremely well,” he said.

“And in a high-use area like the MBPH Renal unit, you accumulate a lot of run-time on the machines and so they reach a point − where just like a car − you can service them for so long, but eventually they need to be replaced.

“The machines that are coming out of the hospital are not obsolete, but rather, they are going to be re-used in other areas closer to Melbourne that we can access easily and we are freshening up the whole fleet with brand new machines here at the MBPH.

“That’s the appropriate thing to do in a facility that has a lot of machines with high patient numbers placed on them.”

The MBPH operates one of the state’s largest dialysis units and the machines are in constant use and all of the dialysis machines undergo a regular maintenance program.

“The machines are all able to be connected to our central database which can connect to our 300-plus machines around the state − it’s the only way we can track them each month,” Mr Beeston said.

“The machines are in fact ‘tough work horses’ that are very reliable.

“They do a lot of hours. It isn’t unusual to see 15,000 plus hours on these machines,” he said.

“But at that point, you are looking closely at them and at that stage of their life, they would be more suitably located closer to our office in Melbourne, rather than in the farthest reaches of our area of responsibility such as Mildura.”

MBPH Dialysis Services Nurse Unit manager Edson Avisado said that the Renal Dialysis unit currently has nine chairs with a dialysis machine attached to them.

“We can have nine patients in the morning and nine patients in the afternoon − that’s 18 per day Monday to Saturday,” he said.

“But due to the demand of the patients, we are able to operate an additional shift because some of the patients are only requiring four hours of treatment.

“Therefore this provides another window of time that allows us to open another shift during the day − not every day − but whenever that opportunity exists, which will ideally be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“However at this stage, we are only opening that shift up on Wednesday, because we only have one extra patient. When we have more patients we will extend those shifts.”

Some patients are fortunate to be on the transplant list which is not available to all those who are suffering from severe kidney disease. Typically they will be patients with comorbidities and that’s why dialysis is so important − it literally keeps those people alive.

Edson said that the MBPH also offers another type of dialysis known as the peritoneal dialysis, which is a treatment option which the patient can use at home and also travel with it.

“We can train patients in how to use the ‘Claria’ but they do need to travel to Melbourne to have the ‘access’ surgery performed prior to that and then we carry out their training here at the MBPH,” he said.

With the peritoneal dialysis the patient can undertake a manual or automatic fluid exchange with automatic peritoneal dialysis using a Baxter ‘Homechoice Claria’ machine.

ABOVE: The MBPH Renal unit team: Registered nurses Krystal Roberts, Cheryl Adolph, Judy Webster, Ernie Delicano and Michael Lacia.