High Prairie dialysis ribbon cutting

L-R: Janet Farney (site manager, High Prairie Health Complex), Robert Nygaard, Cindy Harmata (AHS senior operating officer, Areas 5-8 North Zone Allied Health and Seniors), Brian Panasiuk, Pat Rehn, Barry Sharkawi (president, High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce), Kristin Dirom (unit manager, Alberta Kidney Care North).

The first patients began receiving treatment at the new High Prairie Renal Dialysis Unit on Feb. 16.

“This new dialysis unit will improve the range of health-care services for High Prairie and area residents. Today’s ribbon cutting underscores our mission to make sure Albertans have access to quality health care, no matter where they live. I want to thank the staff who will provide treatment closer to home and MLA Pat Rehn for his advocacy to help make this project a reality.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

The unit will begin by offering a reduced number of treatments while staff and patients adjust to the new facility. It is expected to operate at full capacity by the end of February.

“It’s well known that dialysis is a treatment that saves lives. What might not be as well known is the way nearby access to dialysis improves quality of life by reducing the need for travel and giving people back valuable time to do the things that matter to them.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

When fully operational, the six-station dialysis unit will be open three days per week, with the ability to treat 12 patients a day.

Dialysis patients currently must leave the community to receive treatments, unless they are on home dialysis. The addition of the new clinic in High Prairie will reduce pressure on the dialysis unit at the Slave Lake Healthcare Centre.

“I join the community of High Prairie in celebrating this new service. The new renal dialysis unit is something the community believed in and worked for in partnership with Alberta’s government. It’s a testament to their dedication.”

Pat Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

The Alberta government provided $5.2 million to AHS to build a new dialysis unit in shelled-in space at the High Prairie health centre. This decision followed significant engagement with the High Prairie community. Construction on the unit began in February 2021.

“I am thrilled the dialysis clinic in High Prairie is opening. This is a game-changer for those that need dialysis, as they will no longer need to travel for over an hour to get this life-saving treatment. Having a dialysis clinic in High Prairie will also reduce the strain on the family and friends who had to drive the person a couple of times per week for treatments.” 

Brian Panasiuk, mayor, Town of High Prairie

“Finally, we have a dialysis unit closer to Whitefish Nation. With this facility, our folks won't have to travel a couple hours one way just to get the treatment they need. Thank you to everyone for their hard work and making this endeavour a reality for many folks who could not afford to travel those three- to four-hour trips each day.”

Chief Albert Thunder, Whitefish First Nation

“The opening of this dialysis clinic is the result of years of lobbying, and I’m proud of the work that not only this council but those who sat on council in years past have put in to make the opening of this dialysis clinic a reality. Investing in northern communities like High Prairie impacts not only the immediate residents but the thousands of people who live in independent communities, hamlets, towns, First Nations reserves and Metis Settlements in the area.”

Robert Nygaard, reeve, Big Lakes County