Polk citizens, officials stress need for dialysis center

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About 50 Polk County residents and employees attended a public hearing last Friday urging the state to approve a dialysis center in Polk County.

All comments were in favor of a dialysis center, with some being emotional as people shared stories about their own experiences as a dialysis patient or the experiences of family members The main concerns were that Polk residents have to travel long distances to receive dialysis, such as to Hendersonville or Forest City, with most patients having to travel three times per week. A dialysis treatment typically takes five hours.

Douglas Edney spoke of taking his wife to dialysis and said when there is bad weather it is especially trying to get to her treatments.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

&dquo;I hope and pray this will work out,&dquo; Edney said.

Polk County Transportation Director Jewell Carswell said county transportation services has been transporting residents to dialysis clinics since1985. She said there are currently four patients with two going to Landrum and two going to Hendersonville. She mentioned that Medicaid spends a lot for people going out of county. &dquo;We see how tiring this is for our people,&dquo; Carswell said.

Ricky McFalls said a dialysis center is needed in Polk County.

&dquo;Folks, you&squo;re looking at a dialysis patient,&dquo; McFalls said. &dquo;I sat in that chair for five hours. I&squo;ve been there, done this.&dquo;

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson and other county employees and local fire departmnt officials also spoke of the need.

Whitson said while working as a social worker in another county he remembers taking dialysis patients for treatment one Christmas morning.

&dquo;I&squo;ll never forget what one gentleman said to me….&squo;you know, some men have to go through a lot to be able to die,&squo;&dquo; said Whitson.

Bill Hyland, Dirctor of Healthcare Planning with DaVita, the only organization which has applied for a certificate of need to bring a 10-bed center to Polk County, spoke to residents. Hyland said plans are to have 32 patients from Polk, Rutherford and Spartanburg counties by the end of year one. Hyland said the center could be certified Jan. 1, 2010 and it will cost about $1 million to upfit a building.&bsp; The 10-station facility could have a 40 patient capacity with eventually a six-day operation with two shifts per day, Hyland said. The center would employ nine people to start.