For three days of the week, Frank Bailey wears his pyjamas under his regular clothes and walks out the door.
He heads to Royal Jubilee Hospital with his pillow and book, Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon, in hand.
Once inside the hospital, Bailey weighs himself, takes his temperature and blood pressure, grabs his chart and heads over to his designated bed for the evening.
He gets three sets of warm sheets to make the bed, then takes out his book, climbs in and waits for the nurse to hook him up to a dialysis machine for the evening.
“It’s very comfortable. You get used to the staff,” Bailey said.
It’s become a routine for the 75-year-old Victoria resident, who is one of 13 Greater Victoria residents participating in Island Health’s in-centre Nocturnal Hemodialysis Program.
The $62,000-pilot program began in February and is the first of its kind on Vancouver Island.
Hemodialysis helps remove toxins and extra water from the blood. The longer a patient is receiving treatment, the more toxins can be removed. Instead of the conventional four-hour treatment during the day, the new program puts patients on hemodialysis for eight hours while they sleep at night.
Bailey has been on the treatment for the past six months.
“After the four-hour one, I was feeling exhausted, no energy, nothing,” said Bailey, who suffers from kidney failure. “The first couple of days were iffy, but after that I felt a whole lot better. I had a lot more energy than I did before. Now I can do anything when I come home.”
Jenny Di Castri, manager of renal services, south island with Island Health, said the program has been very successful since it launched.
Patients have been able to go back to work or school, play sports, spend time with their families, take fewer medications and have less strict dietary limitations, she added.
“Their blood work is much improved, which means they feel better physically. They’re able to take back more time in the day,” said Di Castri, noting the youngest patient is in their 30s and the oldest in their mid 80s.
“Dialysis is very time consuming. Say your treatment starts at 7 a.m. and you’re done by noon. You’re often very tired by the end of the treatment and you then go home and take a nap. The whole day is gone. By doing it overnight, they’ve got a whole day ahead of them.”
The program has been so successful that officials hope to expand it in January to include another six patients. Twenty patients are currently on the wait list.
Island Health also hopes to open a similar program in Nanaimo.