Waste of time

A TERMINALLY ill woman in Cockburn is having to go through bureaucratic hoops to get her medical waste to the tip, claiming a mix-up by council.

Corina Abraham has end-stage renal failure and since 2012 has undergone hemodialysis at home.

“I’ve got to hook up to this machine to keep me alive,” she says.

The treatment results in a build up of medical waste items such as boxes, bags, lines and blood containers, and Ms Abraham says each year she ends up with more waste than her pension allows her to dispose of at the tip.

She says a few years ago the city’s Aboriginal community development officer helped her to organise extra tip passes, but last week when she went to get them, she was “back at square one”, and had to go through the whole process again, despite previously telling council she was terminally ill.

She says she had to ring around and speak with multiple council staff, and it took a few days for her to get it sorted.

“I had to stress myself again extensively,” says Ms Abraham.

“I’m a sick woman, I can’t do this every time. It should have been sorted out two years ago.

“It’s also an environmental issue, because the waste stinks.”

• Hayden Howard and Corina Abraham. File photo

Barbara Freeman, council community development manager, says at least two years ago the city agreed to provide extra passes to Ms Abraham.

“It is a simple process which needs to be done on request via email or phone,” Ms Freeman says.

Perth Nephrologist and Specialist for Hypertension Johan Rosman says Ms Abraham is not alone in her struggle.

“This is a well-known problem for people undertaking home dialysis because it produces a lot of waste,” he says.

He says by choosing home dialysis, patients save taxpayers substantial costs, and this should be considered when extra allowances are needed to support their home treatment.

“Dialysis in a hospital costs $120,000 per year for a tax payer, that’s for one patient,” Prof Rosman says. “At home, the cost of dialysis drops to $45,000, so actually, this lady is saving the tax payer $75,000. If that doesn’t make up for a little allowance for waste, then I don’t understand this world anymore.”

Prof Rosman says the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology has been fighting for allowances for people like Ms Abraham for years.

“We now have an allowance for home patients for extra electricity and water for the dialysis. It’s a small allowance to help them through that home treatment.”

One council in New South Wales is also attempting to tackle the issue, and in a report said councils should consider the benefits of providing additional garbage capacity to households with a person on home dialysis.

Cockburn council waste manager Lyall Davieson says residents are entitled to six trailer passes for the tip each year.

“It is worth noting there is not another WA Local government that provides weekly waste, weekly recycling services in 240 litre bins, two junk verge and two bulk green waste collections,” he says.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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