Generous Donation Provides New Chairs for Renal Patients in Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout
By Heather Vita - September 22, 2018
TBT Engineering is delighted to fund the purchase of two new treatment chairs for renal dialysis patients in both Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout. Thanks to their donation, patients can expect a comfortable treatment experience, in a safe environment.
The need for renal dialysis is ever-present in Northwestern Ontario, and now, thanks to TBT Engineering, patients receiving dialysis in Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout will have a new chair in each location in which to receive their treatment.
“There was a time when renal dialysis wasn’t an option in areas outside of Thunder Bay,” recalls Liana Frenette, CEO, TBT Engineering. “People had to come to Thunder Bay for treatment and it was a huge upheaval, not only for the patients, but for their families too.”
Frenette saw first-hand the impact of having to relocate for dialysis treatment when her long-time friend and mentor, Mary Luchka, a resident of Fort Frances, needed dialysis. “I got to know Mary when I was a student in University. I lived with her during the summers when I got a job at working at Canada Customs in Fort Frances. It was a bit of an odd friendship, in that, I was in my late teens/early twenties and she was in her sixties, but we hit it off. I even ended up living with her for two years after I completed University, before I eventually moved to Thunder Bay. She was family to me.”
Frenette recalls, “Mary ended up needing dialysis and had to come to Thunder Bay, since there were no facilities available in Fort Frances at that time. Her family needed to remain behind in Fort Frances, so during the day, I’d go see her with my three toddlers and we’d go for walks and visit. Then I’d go again to see her at night. It was really hard for her. There were times the treatment wasn’t working well and her brain would be foggy. Being at home during these treatments would have been so much easier for her and for her family.”
Just prior to Mary’s passing, she was able to return home to Fort Frances and spend her remaining time close to her family and familiar surroundings. This was around the time the Renal Department in Fort Frances was being set up. “It was my first experience with dialysis,” says Frenette, “and it made a big impact on me, because you see just how much it overtakes someone’s life.”
Another mentor of Frenette’s – Laurel Ducharme, also a resident of the Fort Frances area – ended up needing dialysis, and, luckily, was able to receive it in Fort Frances thanks to the expansion of renal services into the Hospital. “It was such a different experience for her,” says Frenette, “since her family was able to be with her and she could stay in her home community.”
“I was only 16 when I got a job with Laurel at Ducharme’s Insurance, and she taught me so much about running a business – everything from how to look after clients, to communicate with companies, to payroll etc. It was thanks to Laurel that I had the confidence to start my own business,” Frenette says.
“My fond memories of Laurel and Mary played a role in my decision to support Lisa Sandham with her Greek Supper Club Fundraiser for new patient chairs in the Renal Department at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, but to also donate one new chair each in Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout, for patients who are receiving their treatment there,” explains Frenette. “We’ve made the donation on behalf of TBT Engineering because our company does so much work across Northwestern Ontario and it is important to us to support the communities where we serve our customers.”
In addition to knowing patients who’ve needed dialysis, Frenette has seen the other side of the equation – from a healthcare provider’s perspective – as her sister-in-law, Patty Hyatt, was one of the first nurses who took a position in the Renal Unit in Fort Frances, and who still works there today. “She’s stellar,” says Frenette. “She has a very difficult role in caring for many patients who are quite ill, and she manages it gracefully and provides incredible care to those who find themselves needing dialysis.”
“When I was considering the idea of donating chairs outside of Thunder Bay, I asked Patty for her opinion and she assured me the need was there and was excited to have this new level of comfort available for her patients,” says Frenette. “While honouring Laurel and Mary’s memories, I also want to honour the work of Patty and her colleagues in Renal departments across the Northwest.”
The two new chairs that will be available in Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout are specifically designed for patients undergoing dialysis and include such features as upholstery that has antimicrobial and antimycotic properties. The chairs also can be adjusted electronically in multiple configurations for maximum patient comfort and feature a backrest that supports CPR.
“I think it’s really important, as an organization, to step forward and provide this donation to enhance the care that patients receive here in Northwestern Ontario,” concludes Frenette. “When our communities work together and we inspire each other, it’s incredible to see what we can do.”
TBT Engineering’s donation of a renal chair for each of the Fort Frances and Sioux Lookout Renal Departments will supplement the funds raised at the 2018 Greek Supper Club, to be held in Thunder Bay on October 2. Funds from this event will support the ongoing purchase of new chairs for renal patients at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.