New Zealand's "burgeoning waistlines" have been a factor in the construction of a $7.6 million state of the art kidney facility at Waikato Hospital.
"We are a nation that is getting fatter," says Peter Sizeland, clinical director of the Midland Regional Renal Service.
"We have issues with chronic diseases and major health challenges associated with obesity."
New Zealand's obesity sits around 26 per cent, and in the last 17 months Waikato Hospital has performed 55 bariatric surgeries to shrink the stomach.
It was for that reason Dr Sizeland said a new, bigger renal centre was needed.
The centre opened on Monday, but Health Minister Tony Ryall will officially open it today.
Dr Sizeland said the major cause of kidney failure was diabetes, with 65 per cent of their dialysis patients having the disease.
Of those with diabetes, 95 per cent had obesity-related Type II diabetes.
In 2011, 17,620 Waikato people had diabetes - up 8.9 per cent on 2010.
That, combined with an ageing population, meant the renal centre was needed now to cope with increasing demand.
The Midland Regional Service - which treats patients from Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Tairawhiti DHBs - spent 19 years in its old unit on the hospital grounds.
It's now seeing three times the number of patients it was when that old unit opened.
"So we outgrew the old facility years ago.
"We now have more space and dialysis stations and a safer clinical environment for patients and staff."
The centre cost $7.6 million and is located at the old, refurbished Lions Cancer Lodge.
It has more than twice the number of dialysis treatment stations, with 30 potentially available and 24 currently in use.
But Dr Sizeland admitted that the unit was the "ambulance at the bottom of the cliff" and wanted more done up the line to reduce the rate of obesity, diabetes and, in turn, the number of people requiring renal treatment.
"Diabetes is a dreadful disease - it causes circulation problems, nerve damage, and eye and kidney damage.
"We have interventions to slow down the rate of complications and their implementation requires an integrated care partnership shared between the primary, secondary and tertiary health providers."
While there was a lot of work to do, Dr Sizeland was confident the team had the resources to take renal care in the region ahead.
"The investment in the new centre is a vote of confidence in us and our work across the Midland region," he said.
"We are a good service but we wish to be even better.
"This new facility will further encourage the staff to strive for excellence and be innovative clinical leaders of renal medicine in New Zealand."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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