Hemodialysis on PEI

Hemodialysis is when blood is cleaned outside of the body using a machine and an artificial kidney filter. Treatments are usually done three times a week in a centre (also called a unit or clinic) with dialysis machines. 

Where can I get hemodialysis on PEI?  

There are four hemodialysis centres on Prince Edward Island:


Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Hemodialysis, 60 Riverside Drive 
Telephone: 902-368-6763
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.


Prince County Hospital
65 Roy Boates Avenue
Telephone: 902-888-8215
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. 


Western Hospital
148 Poplar Street
Telephone: 902-853-0246
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.


Souris Hospital
17 Knights Avenue
Telephone: 902-687-7085
Hours: Monday-Wednesday-Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

New dialysis patients start their hemodialysis treatment in Charlottetown or Summerside. 

Following that, every effort is made to provide hemodialysis in the location closest to your home. If spaces are unavailable at this site, you will be assigned to the next closest location and your name will be placed on a waiting list. 

To ensure continued access for all patients, patients are sometimes transferred to other centres. If this happens, you will be given as much notice as possible and assistance to help resolve any concerns before the transfer.

Do I need a referral for hemodialysis?

Yes. You need to be referred to the Provincial Renal Clinic by a physician or nurse practitioner.  

How long does hemodialysis treatment take?

Your treatment will take about four hours. You will need to go for hemodialysis three times per week, either:

  • every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or
  • every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday

You will likely be scheduled into a daytime spot until you are comfortable with dialysis. Following this, depending on the location, you may be moved to a different time slot. 

Your health care team will try to accommodate your requested times but cannot guarantee them. If you need a specific treatment time to accommodate your work or school, speak to your nurse or social worker.

If you need to switch your treatment time for a special occasion, please contact your dialysis centre. If you know you will be late for your treatment, call the location and let them know when you expect to arrive.

Dialysis centres are closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Your schedule will be adjusted for these weeks. 

How will I feel during hemodialysis? 

Most people receiving a hemodialysis treatment do not feel anything unusual and pass the time watching TV, reading, sleeping, or visiting with others. 

Many patients are fatigued when they complete a treatment and often return home to rest.

If you experience any unusual feelings during or after treatment, such as lightheadedness, headache, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, loss of hearing or leg cramps, notify your nurse immediately.

How does hemodialysis work?

Hemodialysis works by cleaning your blood outside of the body in a machine and returning your clean blood to the body. 

Before you begin dialysis

Before you begin hemodialysis, a doctor will create a vascular access to connect you to the dialysis machine. 

Two types of vascular accesses are:


A fistula is created surgically by attaching an artery (a large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart) directly to a vein (a blood vessel that carries blood to your heart). Usually, this vein is in your non-dominant arm. The artery then enlarges the vein so that needles can be placed in the vein.

Each patient will have two needles: one that will pull the blood away and another that will return the blood once it has been cleaned or passed through the dialyzer.

Central venous catheters

A central venous catheter is a thin, flexible tube inserted directly into the bloodstream. This tube stays in place from treatment to treatment. Once inserted, no further needles are needed to provide hemodialysis treatment. 

A central venous catheter can connect through an area close to your collarbone.  

During treatment

At the start of each session, a health care worker will take your weight, blood pressure, and temperature. The skin around your access site will be cleaned with antiseptic, and you will be connected to a machine at a dialysis station. 

During hemodialysis, your blood travels through tubes in your body into this machine where it goes through a dialyzer. 

The dialyzer is a filter filled with hundreds of tiny hollow straws. As blood passes through these straws, a fluid (bath) on the outside of straws, cleans the blood by drawing waste products from the blood through tiny pores along the outside of each straw. 

The cleaned blood then returns to your body through a different tube. 

During dialysis, this process happens rapidly and continuously for about four hours. A nurse will regularly check in with you during this process.

After treatment

After you are disconnected from the machine, a health care worker will take your weight, blood pressure, and temperature again. 

Share in your care

If you want to be more involved in your dialysis treatments, the nurses will teach you how to:

  • weigh yourself at your treatments
  • monitor your blood pressure 
  • set up your own machine

The nurses are still available to assist you if you have difficulties during your treatments.

What should I wear to dialysis?

Wear comfortable, washable clothes that allow for your vascular access site to be easily reached; for example, a button-up shirt for catheters or a short-sleeve shirt for a fistula or graft. A vest can keep you warm and allow nurses access to your arm. 

Hospital gowns are also available. 

Blankets can be provided to keep you comfortable. 

Can I drive myself to my treatment?

For your first three to six treatments, do not drive yourself to your appointments as you may feel tired or light-headed after dialysis. 

Once you become used to dialysis, you may start driving yourself. 

If you do not have a way to get to your appointment, your health care team may be able to refer you to transportation options.

What can I do during hemodialysis? 

For entertainment, there are televisions at each station. Please bring your own headphones to listen to the TV.

You can also read; sleep; converse with other patients; write; use your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop; or, listen to music while receiving dialysis. If using electronics with sound, please use headphones. 

If you have a fistula, you may have limited mobility of your fistula arm during your treatment.

The bike program

The bike program allows patients to use bike pedals that attach to their hemodialysis chair during their treatment. Benefits of biking on dialysis include: 

  • better control of blood pressure 
  • better quality of dialysis 
  • improved muscle strength and stamina, 
  • benefits to mental health such as a decrease in anxiety and fatigue

If you choose to bike, start slowly at first; biking for five to 10 minutes. During each treatment, you can increase the amount of time or resistance of the bike.

If you are interested in the bike program, let your nurse know so that they can get approval from the nephrologist (kidney doctor). 

Can I eat or drink during hemodialysis?

Ask a health care team member if it is safe for you to eat or drink during dialysis. 

For some people, eating on dialysis may cause a drop in blood pressure and seriously affect treatment.

If you have diabetes, bring a juice or sugar snack with you to dialysis in case you experience low blood sugar before, during, or after your dialysis treatment. 

Your renal dietitian can provide more information about suitable snacks and food for individuals receiving in-centre hemodialysis.

You may want to bring a healthy meal or snack to eat after dialysis treatment. 

Can I have a friend or family member keep me company while I receive hemodialysis?

Due to COVID-19, visitors are not currently permitted in hemodialysis centres.  If you require the presence of a caregiver during your treatment, please call the hemodialysis centre in advance.

Can I use the bathroom during hemodialysis?

Washrooms are available to use before and after your dialysis treatments. 

Will I get the same station each time?

You may not get the same station each time you dialyze. If you have a safety concern for yourself about any station, please discuss this with your nurse.

What measures are in place to reduce the risk of infection?

Your health care team takes care to limit the risk of infection in dialysis centres. Equipment is disinfected regularly, and dialysis tubes and filters are only used once and then thrown away. Staff wear protective equipment and wash their hands between caring for patients.

Talk to your nurse if you are worried about the risk of infection when receiving care/treatment.

What happens if I miss a treatment?

Regular dialysis is necessary for your overall health. Please make every effort to attend your dialysis treatments. Research shows that patients who miss or shorten dialysis treatments are more likely to be hospitalized. 

If you feel sick, call your home dialysis centre to get instructions.  

If poor weather or another emergency is preventing you from getting to your dialysis appointment, call the centre and let them know. 

When there is poor weather, always call the centre before going to dialysis in case there is a schedule change. 

What happens if I stop dialysis?

You have the right to make your own choices about your treatment, which means you can refuse or stop dialysis permanently. 

If you choose to stop or skip a treatment, you may put your life in danger. 

If you are considering stopping dialysis speak to a member of your renal team (i.e., a nurse, physician, or social worker) so they can offer the appropriate support services regarding your decision.

Can I travel when I need hemodialysis?

Yes, with some planning. For more information, visit Travel and Vacation Planning for Dialysis Patients.

I am travelling to PEI and need dialysis. How can I arrange this? 

If you are from another province or country, you may be able to access hemodialysis services while visiting PEI. 

The availability of this service is based on the capacity of the centre and the resources available. You must arrange for your hemodialysis before you travel to PEI. 

Contact the Provincial Renal Program administrative assistant at 902-303-7069 for more information.


About the Provincial Renal Program

Health PEI provides a range of kidney care and related services through the Provincial Renal Program to prevent, diagnose, and treat kidney disease including:  

Contact the PEI Provincial Renal Clinic

QEH Ambulatory Care Centre
60 Riverside Drive
Charlottetown, PE C1A 8T5

Telephone: 902-894-0019
Fax: 902-620-0497


Published date: 
March 5, 2024
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