Coloured streamers and party balloons decorated the Renal Unit at Bexhill Hospital last week as the unit marked its 25th anniversary.
The unit was ceremonially opened on February 21, 1994, by Cllr Brian Kentfield when town mayor. Current mayor Cllr Abul Azad was guest of honour at Wednesday’s event (February 20), when he cut the first slice of a celebratory cake.
The unit saves local kidney failure patients the time-consuming journey three times a week to Brighton for life-preserving dialysis.
A plaque over the unit door commemorates the fact that the unit was funded by the League of Friends of Bexhill Hospital, the Sussex Kidney Trust and the people of Bexhill. Unit manager Lesley Guthrie recalled that when first opened, there were dialysis stations for just six patients. Today, thanks to constant updating and replacement of equipment and expansion funded by the League, the unit has 15 dialysis stations and treats 58 people each week.
For patients such as Kevin How, each session to cleanse his blood takes four hours.
Patient comfort, therefore, is a priority for staff and the League has just replaced 13 of the highly-specialised dialysis chairs at a cost of £33,127. The charity has also paid for the unit floor to be re-surfaced and for essential window blinds to be renewed.
Lesley said: “Without the League of Friends’ help we would not be able to exist. You have been so generous.”
Cllr Azad said: “It is so important to have facilities such as this within the local community, making the lives of those people who need to use the service easier.
“Thanks must go to the League of Friends of Bexhill Hospital, and the dedicated team of doctors, nurses and staff that work here, making what can be a very stressful time comfortable and welcoming while providing a fantastic level of care.”
The League delegation was led by vice chairman Rosemary Boyd-Mercer and included treasurer and webmaster Chris Ashford, president and secretary John Dowling, vice president Peter Mitchell Davis and committee members Audrey Kerr, Harriet Chapman, Christine Madeley, Ann Dowling, Peter Stiles and Robin Poll.
Guests also included Margaret Longley who has devoted the last five years since her husband died to fund-raising and providing equipment for the unit.