03/30/2016 18:52 EDT | Updated 03/31/2017 01:12 EDT

New kidney dialysis unit being built at health centre in Lac La Biche, Alta.

LAC LA BICHE, Alta. — After nearly 12 years of receiving kidney dialysis in a bus, residents of the Lac La Biche area of northern Alberta are going to be getting a permanent facility.

The Alberta government announced Wednesday that construction will begin on a dialysis unit at the William J. Cadzow Lac La Biche Healthcare Centre.

Residents from Smoky Lake and Vilna to Wandering River and Athabasca will benefit from the addition.

Dr. Richard Birkill, medical director for the region, said for those living with kidney disease, dialysis is a critical but time-consuming treatment.

He said an in-facility unit will provide patients in the area with stable dialysis treatment for years to come.

The unit is expected to start taking patients in early 2018 and the bus will be decommissioned after the permanent unit is open.