Tony Clement, Minister of Health, attends official opening

Toronto (Aug. 7, 2002) - Canada's first dialysis service for seniors who also require comprehensive rehabilitation officially opened at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute on August 8, 2002. This new inpatient service, developed and operated in partnership with University Health Network (UHN), represents a lifeline for seniors who need dialysis to live, but whose quality of life is compromised by complicating health factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The dialysis population is growing by 10% per year. As Canada's population continues to age we will see more seniors requiring dialysis because of kidney failure. "Our goal is to help this group get any complicating factors such as diabetes in check, work on their mobility and independence issues and get them home," says Toronto Rehab’s Dr. Barry Goldlist, medical director, Geriatric Rehabilitation Program.

The Honourable Tony Clement, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, attended the official opening of the Toronto Rehab and UHN Dialysis Service on August 8 which included a ribbon cutting and a tour of the new dialysis service unit.

Without an existing model to base the service on, the team opted to develop a new framework. As a result, geriatric patients receive two hours of dialysis, six days a week – instead of the more common four hours a day, three days a week. "We’re trying to maximize the effects of rehabilitation knowing that these patients can’t survive without dialysis," explains Dr. Vanita Jassal, a UHN nephrologist (kidney specialist) and medical director of the dialysis service.

One of those people is Gordon Studor, 65. "I definitely have more energy after two hours of dialysis – four hours just leaves me feeling dragged out. With the two hour schedule I leave feeling refreshed." A physiotherapist and occupational therapist work daily with Studor to help him reach his goals of being able to transfer from his bed to wheelchair, to dress himself and to wash himself – and most important to be home with his family.

Toronto Rehab is a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto and the largest provider of adult rehabilitation services in Canada. UHN is a regional training centre for dialysis and operates one of the largest hemodialysis programs in the country.

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