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Massena hospital’s dialysis center at capacity

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MASSENA - The outpatient dialysis center at Massena Memorial Hospital is at capacity.

The center reached its capacity of 51 patients approximately four to six weeks ago, according to spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran. Hospital officials may increase the center’s capacity by expanding the clinic at 290 Main St., finding room for two additional chairs in the existing facility, or adding additional dialysis hours from 9 p.m. to midnight. The hospital opened the outpatient center in 2004 at a cost of $1.5 million.

“We’re looking at various options of what we want to do there,” hospital board Chairman Darrel Paquin said at Monday night’s board of managers meeting.

MMH’s outpatient dialysis services begin at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday, with staff arriving an hour earlier. The first round of patients complete dialysis at 10 a.m.; two more four-hour dialysis shifts round out the day, which ends at 8 p.m.

In 2012, the center had 4,675 patient visits through Aug. 31. That’s 21 percent more than was budgeted year to date, and 22 percent greater than the number of patients served through Aug. 31 of last year.

““We’re always happy to see our services grow and be utilized,” Mrs. Corcoran said. “That’s what we’re here for, is to serve our community’s medical needs.”

Sue Beaulieu, MMH’s chief nurse executive, credited the hiring of a full-time nephrologist for the center’s growth. The hospital also received approval from the state Department of Health in 2011 for inpatient dialysis services, which in turn grew the use of the hospital’s outpatient clinic.

While hospital officials are pleased with the clinic’s growth, its popularity also points to a troubling trend.

“Unfortunately, the prevalence of dialysis and kidney disease is only increasing,” Ms. Beaulieu said.

Reaching capacity is not a dilemma shared by the two other outpatient dialysis centers closest to MMH, at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, and Alice Hyde Medical Center, Malone. Claxton-Hepburn’s outpatient center is larger, with 24 chairs; it serves approximately 75 patients.

“It’s kind of holding its own,” spokeswoman Laura Shea said. “We haven’t seen a dramatic increase or decrease.”

Alice Hyde’s outpatient center has 11 chairs and is serving 42 patients, according to spokeswoman Cathlyn Lamitie.

“We’re not dealing with that issue,” she said of reaching capacity. “Nationally, end stage renal diseases are on the rise.”

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