Dialysis center comes to Chiefland

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Chiefland and Levy County residents needing the blood-filtering effects of kidney dialysis will soon find they need not travel far.  That’s because Chiefland is about to have its own kidney dialysis facility.

 Ron Colvin, field superintendent for the construction company overseeing the project, said the facility, started in October, should be completed by mid January.

The building, owned by Fresenius Medical Care, is of modular construction and is about 7,000 square feet.  Colvin said the building is meant to handle up to10 patients at a time.

“If it goes well,” he said, “they’ll develop a more permanent structure.”

Peter Tharpe, operations manager for Fresenius, said, "We'd like to have a bigger facility in a few years."

Tharpe said he believes Chiefland will be a good location for the facilty.

There are about 40 patients in Levy County in need of dialysis, he said.  The Chiefland center will make it a lot easier for those patients to receive care.

Plus, he said, "We are seeing a higher population of people having trouble with their kidneys."

The human kidneys help filter excess fluids, minerals and wastes.  But once the kidneys begin to fail, dialysis is often needed to keep the body in check.

The most common cause of kidney failure can be attributed to diabetes, a disease that has increased by more than 90 percent over the last 10 years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“ If current trends continue,” the CDCP states, “one in three Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10 to 15 years of life.”

    According to the Levy County Health Profile Report, in 2007, 11.7 percent of Levy County’s population was diagnosed with some type of diabetes, while only 8.7 percent of the total state population is known to suffer from the disease.

Barbara Locke, an administrator with the Levy County Health Department, said she’s glad to hear about the soon-to-come dialysis facility.

“It saves people from having to drive to other places like Gainesville or Ocala.”  

She says it’s best if patients in the area have as much access to needed healthcare as possible.