PATIENTS undergoing dialysis at Wangaratta hospital may have to travel to another town to receive their life-sustaining treatment.
In planning for an influx of coronavirus patients, Northeast Health Wangaratta is contemplating shifting the dialysis unit.
The prospect of potentially having to travel to Yarrawonga, Myrtleford or Mansfield for dialysis has alarmed Wangaratta's Michelle Pursell.
She spends five hours a day, three days a week at Wangaratta hospital receiving dialysis.
"I'm very upset, hurt and angry," Mrs Pursell said.
"That's my lifeline and it's hard enough to go and sit there for five hours, let alone be told you're going to move.
"It's as if they don't care.
"If they're going to make us travel, you feel what's the point of dialysis."
Northeast Health's executive director clinical services Rebecca Weir said "we've got four plans on the table" for the future of dialysis.
She said shifting the dialysis unit from the main hospital building was driven by a desire to not have any vulnerable patients there.
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Oncology services have already gone to the dental clinic which has a separate entrance to the hospital.
Northeast Health works with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which also provides the dialysis services at Yarrawonga, Myrtleford and Mansfield.
Ms Weir could not rule out Wangaratta's patients having to go to any of those three sites to continue treatment, however she said "we will absolutely try with all our best efforts to keep dialysis in situ at Northeast Health Wangaratta".
"I can't guarantee when the peak (of COVID-19) is going to happen or if it's going to happen but the modelling that's come out of the Department of Health would suggest we would see a surge of critically unwell patients that would then change our normal business," Ms Weir said.
She said discussions had been held with patients about a potential move of the unit which serves 20 people and has seven chairs.
"We recognise any change in their routine would cause a level of anxiety on top of anxiety already due to the pandemic," Ms Weir said.
"We don't make these decisions lightly."
Mrs Pursell said she was first told of a shift last week, when a nurse said her dialysis would go to Yarrawonga.
She said the camaraderie among those with kidney problems was important.
"We banter and we're a bit like family and it makes it that little bit easier to go," Mrs Pursell said.
Ms Drew said the need to provide a transport service to access an out-of-town dialysis session was being considered as part of planning.
Albury Wodonga Health does not have the same dilemma as dialysis occurs in Wodonga and intensive care is in Albury.