Last year, Seneca Dialysis relocated from its original site on St. Francis Avenue to a new building at 10 St. Lawrence Drive, on the Mercy Tiffin Hospital campus. Jennifer Wagner is the administrator for the facility, which is managed by DaVita. The clinic was constructed at a cost of $1.3 million.
The building was turned over to DaVita in the spring, but inspections and permits were not completed until summer. The move took place Aug. 31 in one day, without interrupting services to patients. The equipment from the former clinic was disconnected and transported to the new center. New equipment also was added to complete 12 dialysis stations.
Two groups of doctors oversee Seneca Dialysis. Dr. Benahili Iboaya is affiliated with Findlay Kidney and Hypertension Center, and Dr. Balhinder Brar of Nephrology Associates in Toledo is medical director for the Tiffin facility. A team of 12 professionals works at the center, which is open 4:45 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 4:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
PHOTO BY MARYANN KROMER
A dialysis station in the new building.
Social worker Tracy Smith and administrative assistant Sara Silardi gave an update on the center's operations so far.
"Things are going well," Smith said.
"We currently take care of 46 patients. We have patients traveling from Upper Sandusky, Willard, Sycamore and Fremont," Silardi said. "Since we opened Aug. 31, we've provided 2,780 treatments. We usually do about 500 treatments per month."
Silardi said about 16 years is the longest period of treatment for any of their clients. Their oldest patient is 92 years old. The Tiffin facility only treats those age 18 and older. It also offers transient dialysis for people who live out of the area but are here to visit family members or who are traveling through and need to stop for a treatment.
Wagner supplied some enlightening statistics. More than 20 million Americans - one in 10 - have some level of chronic kidney disease. In the population age 65 and older, chronic kidney disease doubled between 2000 and 2008. Now, more than 240 million have been diagnosed worldwide. That number is expected to rise to 380 million by 2025.
"A lot of people have kidney disease and don't even know it," Smith said.
She explained the progression of kidney disease through five stages. Stage 5 is the point at which dialysis is needed to take over for kidneys no longer able to remove impurities from a person's body. The next stage would be a kidney transplant. Seneca Dialysis offers KidneySmart, an informative program for patients with end-stage renal disease.
"A lot of people live in stage 3 or stage 4. After that, they come in and receive free dialysis education to try to help slow down the progression of kidney disease. It's a free program. We offer it once a month," Smith said.
People can call the center at (419) 443-1051 or register online at www.davita.com to choose the month they wish to attend. Doctors can suggest the program to their stage 3 and 4 patients, and family members are welcome to attend to learn more.
Another feature at Seneca Dialysis is a training area for patients who need in-home hemodialysis, also called peritoneal dialysis. People who are working may find it more convenient to do their own treatments at home. Smith said DaVita has a designated nurse to run the program.
"The training is all done through here and their home. We have a handful of patients that are starting to be educated and a couple that are actually started on the program," Smith said. "It's what we do here except they do it at home."
After starting dialysis, a person must continue two or three times a week for the rest of his or her life, or until a kidney transplant is available. Silardi said two Seneca Dialysis patients have received kidney transplants over the past six months. Smith said getting one's name on the waiting list can be a lengthy and complicated process, which also depends on the availability of a viable kidney.
The team at Seneca Dialysis tries to provide a friendly atmosphere for patients, as well as the latest technology. Heated chairs and televisions for each client offer additional comfort.
"We do provide 'DaVita Rx' which is a pharmacy program for our patients. All their meds are delivered here to the pharmacy ... we take care of getting authorization from the insurance company and contacting their doctors for refills." Smith said.
She added DaVita just opened a new unit in Fremont and expects to open a new building in Sandusky in March. To learn more about the company, visit their website at www.davita.com.