Janet and Navio Zeglio have put out a desperate plea to get kidney dialysis services closer to home.
Janet and Navio Zeglio have put out a desperate plea to get kidney dialysis services closer to home.

HEALTH PLEA: ‘They deserve so much better’

A MIDGE Point couple has put out a desperate plea for a kidney dialysis unit to be set up in Proserpine, saying their nine-hour return trip for treatment was making an already physically and emotionally taxing situation even more difficult.

Janet Zeglio has been undergoing kidney dialysis for about four months.

Every week, Mrs Zeglio has to wake up at 5.30am to begin the hour and a half journey to Mackay Hospital with her husband Navio.

When she arrives at the hospital, she has to leave her husband at the door due to coronavirus restrictions before undergoing six hours of treatment.

The couple then make the commute back to Midge Point in the afternoon rounding out a nine-hour day of travel and treatment "if nothing goes wrong", according to Mrs Zeglio.

The couple has have no other choice but to make the trip to Mackay for treatment as their closest hospital, just half an hour down the road in Proserpine, does not offer kidney dialysis.

This was a grave concern for Mr Zeglio who said the trips so far had taken a toll on the pair.

"There's enough pressure on the person just to have to do it without putting all this other stuff on top of it as well," he said.

"You've got to worry about travelling and the traffic on the road and anything else that might come along during the day.

"If things get worse and her treatment gets longer or anything like that, it's going to be impossible to do it in one day.

"If that's going to (happen), we're probably going to have to relocate, and in this day and age you just haven't got money to throw around and buy things willy nilly and set up all over again, particularly at our age."

Mrs Zeglio has to travel to Mackay for kidney dialysis treatment. Picture: Tony Martin
Mrs Zeglio has to travel to Mackay for kidney dialysis treatment. Picture: Tony Martin

Before coronavirus struck, Mr Zeglio could sit with his wife while she received treatment.

However, hospital restrictions due to the coronavirus mean he instead has to find a place to sit and wait.

This led to some concern about the risk of contracting coronavirus, as Mr Zeglio said he was around far more people in Mackay than he was at home in Midge Point.

"They're putting me in a place like Mackay where there are people walking around everywhere, whereas here, I'm lucky if I see the bloke across the street once a day," he said.

"I've got no choice. It's something that I have to do and that's it.

"If it were in Proserpine, and we could go to Proserpine and it would be different."

Mrs Zeglio said she was also concerned about her husband driving her to and from appointments.

"It worries me coming home, other than it's really rough, because I don't get to sleep. We leave really early and I don't get to sleep in the chair," she said.

"I'm worried that he's been sitting around for six hours, and he's 84 this month, and (I'm worried) he's going to drop off to sleep. So I can't even go to sleep on the way home because I'm watching him all the time."

Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Jo Whitehead said renal services were continually in review across Queensland and that a service in Proserpine was under investigation.

"In March 2019, Mackay Hospital and Health Service opened a renal satellite dialysis unit at Bowen Hospital. The satellite unit brings renal services closer to home for Bowen, Collinsville and Whitsunday residents," she said.

"In addition to this, home (self-care) dialysis is available to all patients located in the Whitsundays who are deemed medically suitable to undertake this option.

"Patients receive full training and may need the support of a family member or friend to complete their treatment.

"Mackay Hospital and Health Service is currently investigating the need and capacity for additional renal services in rural facilities, including Proserpine Hospital."

Mr and Mrs Zeglio’s closest hospital in Proserpine does not offer a kidney dialysis service. Image: Deborah Friend
Mr and Mrs Zeglio’s closest hospital in Proserpine does not offer a kidney dialysis service. Image: Deborah Friend

However, Mrs Zeglio said she was not eligible for treatment at Bowen Hospital, located just over an hour's drive from the couple's home, as she understood they were already at capacity with residents from Bowen and Collinsville.

At-home treatment is also not an option for the couple, as they were concerned about meeting the requirements for administering the treatment, such as space, equipment and expertise.

Ms Whitehead said the Bowen Hospital renal satellite service treated patients who were deemed clinically suitable by a renal specialist.

While the Mackay Hospital and Health Service worked to offer services to patients close to home, location of choice was not always possible straight away, she said.

At-home treatment is also not an option for the couple, as they were concerned about meeting the requirements for administering the treatment, such as space, equipment and expertise.

Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan rallied behind Mr and Mrs Zeglio and submitted a question on notice to state parliament asking the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles to commit to providing kidney dialysis services at Proserpine Hospital.

 

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said Mr and Mrs Zeglio ‘deserve so much better’. Picture: Tony Martin
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said Mr and Mrs Zeglio ‘deserve so much better’. Picture: Tony Martin

Mr Costigan said he was under the impression that progress on rolling out kidney dialysis machines and chairs would be rolled out in Proserpine had been made earlier and pushed to get action for residents like Mr and Mrs Zeglio.

"I think their story will resonate with many people in our community. They've worked their guts out all their life and they deserve so much better," he said.

"It's not in the outback, it's not in the bush, this is on the coast and if that's how good we're going in the 21st century in the first world economy then we need to have a look at ourselves in the mirror."

In the meantime, Mr and Mrs Zeglio called for change not only to help them, but to assist other members of the community.

Mrs Zeglio had high hopes for a satellite treatment unit like Kidney Health Australia's Big Red Kidney Bus.

The bus is available free of charge to all Australians and is set up for six weeks or more in holiday parks around Victoria and New South Wales.

Mrs Zeglio said a similar service that travels across the Whitsunday region would help many people in remote areas.

Buses aside, Mr Zeglio pushed for a service in Proserpine that would help keep him and his wife healthy.

"They've got to get serious about putting some chairs in Proserpine, because the overriding factor is that the population of the Whitsunday area, to me, is big enough to warrant at least four chairs there in Proserpine somewhere, whether it be at the hospital or at some other location," he said.


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