KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP —
Justine Alessi said that when her husband was in the nursing home last year, they had to pay $150 for each trip to the dialysis center. Because he was in a wheel chair and not a bed, the transportation costs were ineligible for Medicare reimbursement.
“It was a lot of money,” Justine Alessi said. “But we had to pay it.”
Commissioners lease the 2,600-square-foot space to DaVita, which invested more than $500,000 on remodeling the former daycare area and equipping it with six stations. Steen said the center initially will operate on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.
When fully operational, the center will be able to treat 18 patients a day and carry a full caseload of 36 patients. Treatments are typically four hours in length.
Dr. Orlando D’Silva, medical director for the center, said the dialysis process can’t be hurried because the few hours spent on a machine every-other-day must replace the 24-hour-a-day function of the kidneys.
To help patients pass the time, the center offers wireless Internet connection for browsing and email, plus television monitors at each station. An upbeat, fun atmosphere is maintained at the centers to help combat the boredom and malaise, as well.
“These people are amazing,” Justine Alessi said. “Every time he comes here, they are always upbeat.”
Steen estimates that there are at least 150 dialysis patients in the county, and the numbers increase annually. DaVita’s Ashtabula center on Carpenter Road can handle up to 96 patients and has a census of 83. DaVita also has a center in Miller Memorial in Andover. Outpatient therapy also is offered at a center in Jefferson that is not owned by DaVita.
The leading illnesses that cause kidney failure are diabetes, high blood pressure and hereditary factors.
“We see a lot of fathers-sons, mothers-daughters getting treatment,” Steen says. “We even had a couple, husband and wife, who got treatment together.”