Heartbreak for husband and wife split by dialysis

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Patrica Argent and her husband Robert, who is undergoing dialysis in Perth.
Camera IconPatrica Argent and her husband Robert, who is undergoing dialysis in Perth.

An elderly Albany woman has expressed her heartache after her husband was forced to relocate to Perth to receive lifesaving dialysis treatment.

Patricia and Robert Argent celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year, and with no room in Albany for Mr Argent to receive his treatment, they are marking the milestone apart.

Mr Argent, 74, went into Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital on May 4. After weeks in a hospital bed, he was relocated to a nearby nursing home.

His loved ones are hours away in Albany.

Albany Health Campus has a six-chair dialysis unit that provides treatment for 18 patients.

It is operating at full capacity and Mr Agent is one of two patients on the waiting list.

His wife Patricia, 82, said she had been told they could remain apart for some time, with no estimate as to how long he would be on the waiting list.

“Fifty years of marriage and we are living separate lives,” she said.

“There is no way I could sell my house and move to Perth.

“I was told I could rent accommodation in Perth to be with him but by doing that, you leave your old house empty, which has to be looked after.

“I have flown a few times and it gets quite expensive and at my age, I don’t like when you get to Perth and you have to travel all the way into the city. It’s just not good enough.

“They spend money on lots of things, and I know there are people in more need than me, but the waitlist situation has been going on a long time.”

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said the organisation was looking to increase renal physician support at Albany Health Campus.

“These patients have been on the waitlist for 31 and 14 days respectively,” she said on Monday.

“Waitlist times are variable and in some instances, high-risk patients will still require transfer to Perth.

“WACHS supports patients who are required to travel to Perth for treatment through the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.

“Understanding that travel to Perth for treatment can often be distressing and difficult for regional patients, WACHS is increasingly working with renal specialists in the metro area to improve the current model of care.”

State Acting Health Minister Ben Wyatt said he appreciated it was stressful for patients and their loves ones when they were forced to leave home to receive lifesaving medical treatment.

“Since coming to office, the McGowan Government has spent $5.34 million on new renal dialysis facilities in regional WA, so more people can get the care they need, close to where they live,” he said. “WACHS is currently looking to increase renal physician support at Albany Health Campus to offer an improved model of care.”

The Argent family’s case echoes that of Albany man John Ripp, who pushed for better facilities at Albany Health Campus in January this year after he had to make weekly trips to Perth for dialysis treatment.

At the time, Mr Ripp said he had two options — travel to Perth every week or stay at home and die. He was one of two people on the waitlist for a permanent position with the Albany dialysis service.

“I want a life, I want to be able to do things with my partner and my daughter. I’m missing out on so much,” Mr Ripp said.

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