After years of discussions and promises, our whole unit moved to brand new premises last week. But this was only the latest in a series of changes that were driven both locally and internationally. It has been an interesting journey, playing musical chairs both in ownership and location.
The Unit was set up 17 years ago in 1994, as one of the first private dialysis units in Melbourne. It started as a three seat, eight-client ward in the Diamond Valley Community Hospital in Greensborough, with Dr Jon Snider as Head of the Unit and Anna Catterall, the wonderful Unit Manager I have written about before. The Unit grew over the years, until there were eight seats supporting 20-plus clients in a largish wing custom designed for dialysis.
Meanwhile the Community Hospital was taken over by the Mercy Health and Aged care, to become the Mercy Diamond Valley Hospital. It then closed and reopened as the Diamond Valley Community Centre. When the Community hospital closed the Unit was sold to Gambro, based in Sweden.
Gambro itself was sold to a group of Scandinavian investment companies in 2006, and in 2007 the new owners split Gambro in two: the original manufacturing company, and a new services company, Gambro Healthcare, which operates Gambro’s 155+ dialysis units in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia (including our Diamond Valley Unit). Within a month, Gambro Healthcare was sold to Bridgepoint, a private equity group based in the UK. In 2007 Bridgepoint renamed the company Diaverum.
Diaverum is a name in two parts. The first part, ‘dia’, represents their core activity, dialysis and renal services. The second part ‘verum’ means truth in Latin for the honesty, transparency and reliability that the company strives to be known for.
From what I have seen and experienced, they absolutely live up to their name.
At the Unit Christmas party last year Chris, our super Unit Manager (from the same mould as Anna) confirmed that we were at last moving to a new spot just down the street. The new Unit, an existing two level, stand-alone building, would be completely redesigned for BigD. Over the following months, Chris negotiated with builders, armies of government representatives, Diaverum management, staff and the occasional opinionated BigD patient to get the kind of ideal unit she had dreamed of for many years.
For the past few weeks it was a race with builders, painters, plumbers, gardeners, electricians, computer and dialysis technicians, medical suppliers and more to finish in time for the move. For several weeks we had been told that our Unit would be closed for business on Tuesday and open in the new unit two days later on Thursday. One of our sister Units, Diaverum North Melbourne, would cover the gap. Chris and Cath worked out schedules and arranged for taxis to transport all those clients who did not want to drive the 34 km (21 miles) to North Melbourne.
However, the best laid plans and all that. It is an established fact that the highest risk times for any building are at the start of its life (when so much is happening) and the end of its life (when all maintenance stops). And our old building ran true to form. Early Sunday morning before the Tuesday close, the water filtration (Reverse Osmosis – RO) system imploded. Water everywhere, but not a drop for dialysis. So Emergency Plan A came into action and the switch to North Melbourne happened early. Very early.
All the equipment and consumables not already moved there were rushed to North Melbourne, followed by the Sunday patients. That Unit couldn’t accommodate all the Sunday/Monday patients at their usual times, so Monday patients were called in to Dialyse late into Sunday night. I was watching George Gently on ABC TV at 8:30pm when I got the call: come in by 9pm, stay three hours and go home (they had been calling all day, but my phone was resting elsewhere).
So the adventure began: I entered the address into my trusty TomTom (iPhone version) and drove off into the night. I was met by two very tired staff, Chris and Cath who had been there (and on the road between each unit) many hours. They found my BigD box, some blunt needles and by 9:30pm, I was on. There were lots of familiar BigD faces in those unfamiliar surroundings!
Since North Melbourne runs the nocturnal service I wrote about a few weeks ago, I got to see it close up. All the overnighters were in the adjacent room, just settling in for the night. I thought that this would be a good way to trial nocturnal dialysis for myself, since it was getting onto my bed time and here I was dialysing. However, I just couldn’t sleep. It may have been the novelty of the occasion, or the buzz of an emergency, but I don’t think I dozed for more than about 10 minutes for the whole session (which is strange because I can sleep an hour at a time when I go to early morning BigD in my normal unit).
So, three hours of reading, watching some quite strange TV and stranger late-night ads, staring into space and trying to sleep, and it was time to get off and go home. I was disconnected by 12:45am and home by 1:15am. I took me another hour to get to sleep and I awoke at 7am in Bizarro World. Monday, and no BigD for me today. I was tired and there was no reason why I couldn’t stay there another couple of hours, so I did. When I finally got up, it was 11am, and I would usually be just arriving at work after morning dialysis. So I set off for work and pretended all was well. But it wasn’t really.
Two more days of dialysis at North Melbourne, blissfully uneventful. The organisation like clockwork – or the staff made it look like clockwork!
The New Unit
Then, finally, Day 1 at the new unit. First impressions? Bigger, brighter, newer with lots of windows and lots of space, especially between each machine. It is a little less intimate: no more spontaneous conversations with neighbours on machines. Freedom from interruption is both good and bad. It makes for a peaceful run, but you have to make sure you walk past everyone at the start/end of the run if you want to stay in touch.
Still some work to be done on a way to provide a platform for PCs and other digital stuff, but otherwise great creature comforts: parking spaces, digital TVs, excellent lighting (for us hard-of-seeing), WiFi to come shortly. And the clean and bright has a big impact after the dark and tired of the old unit.
I got my new access code, just for me, which I guarded jealously until someone told me theirs – and it was the same! Then I realised that BigDers needing the same access have the same code. Sensible when you think about it (but not so special…).
The extra space has changed the way the staff have to work too. They are designing different work practices to find the most efficient ways to do things, rather than walking an extra mile a shift to pick up forgotten items. So things don’t have that easy-going feel of the known in the old unit, but I’m sure it will come. The shock of the new fades quickly. (If I don’t write about it this week, it will probably be gone next week, replaced by the shiny new normal.)
Overall rating? Two thumbs up!