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Lewis County General Hospital to hold dialysis groundbreaking Saturday

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County General Hospital officials plan to break ground today on a long-anticipated dialysis project, although construction is not expected to begin for at least another couple of months.

“This patient-focused project further demonstrates our attention to quality care and services for patients as a closer-to-home option for area residents,” Eric R. Burch, CEO at the county-owned hospital, said in a statement. “We wouldn’t have been able to proceed with this important project without the support of our Board of Managers, Lewis County legislators, state and local officials and the community.”

A groundbreaking ceremony is slated for 9:30 a.m. just outside the main entrance at the hospital’s North State Street campus.

The state Department of Health this year approved a certificate of need for DaVita Inc., Buffalo, to operate a dialysis clinic on the hospital.

After meeting with DaVita representatives Wednesday, hospital officials are anticipating project completion by fall 2013.

The hospital is proposing to build a $1 million, 7,200-square-foot addition off the west side of the Medical Arts Building’s first floor and basement to accommodate the dialysis center. Upon completion of the building shell, the hospital would turn it over to DaVita, which would do the interior finish work.

Hospital officials expect to iron out lease details and undertake the bidding process over the next couple of months, which would allow construction to begin by late summer. The shell is expected to take about six months to complete, with interior work to take an additional six months.

Legislators in both 2006 and 2007 supported certificate of need submissions that would have allowed Renal Care of Northern New York, Watertown, to set up a dialysis operation here, but those plans never came to fruition.

Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, Utica, in fall 2009 submitted another certificate of need application. However, by the time the project received state approval, Faxton St. Luke’s officials had decided not to move forward, leaving local officials searching for another partner. They found one last year in DaVita, a company based in Denver that operates similar centers throughout the country.

Up to 30 Lewis County residents receive dialysis treatments in either Watertown or Utica, Mr. Burch has said. Dialysis patients typically undergo four-hour treatments three days each week.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be followed by the hospital’s annual Community Health Awareness Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Health, Healing, & Service to the Community.”

There will be more than 45 vendors, and the event will include a number of free screenings, including blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing and skin, breast and colon cancer. Appointments for skin cancer checks must be made by calling 376-5151.

Attendees may sign up to participate in a cancer prevention study. The event also will include sleep lab tours, chiropractic screenings and participation by various hospital, fire and police departments. Children’s activities will be offered.

Paulie’s Meat & Seafood Market will hold a chicken barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a portion of the proceeds to go toward the dialysis project.

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