By Sid Riley
Marianna Dialysis Center gives new life-blood to those who need this life sustaining treatment.
We all tend to take our kidneys for granted. Most people will go through their life with their kidneys functioning normally, cleaning the body’s poisonous toxins from our systems every moment of every day. March has been designated "Kidney Awareness Month", thus sponsoring the attention to this critical area of public health by this newspaper.
However, if you happen to be one of those unfortunates who experience the tragedy of kidney failure, you will suddenly find your lifestyle and your priorities dramatically altered. If you reside locally, the Marianna Dialysis Center which is located in the old Sears building on Lafayette Street across from the Chamber, will become a very important aspect of your life. It will suddenly become necessary for you to spend four hours, three days per week in this building, undergoing dialysis and having your blood cleansed. If you fail to have this done….you will die.
Marianna Dialysis Center is owned and operated by DaVita, the largest provider of this treatment in the country. DaVita has over 1,400 outpatient dialysis centers spread over 43 states, and serve over 110,000 patients.
At the Marianna Center the Administrator is Robin Wood Gay. Robin and Christina Norris, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager are joined by ten teammates, including RN’s, LPN’s, PCT"s (Patient Care Technicians), and Administrative Assistant, a Social Worker, Reuse and Biomed Technicians. Together they provide this lifesaving treatment twice per week to 71 local citizens who have lost their kidney function.
The center’s Medical Director is Dr. Scott Dean of Panama City. Physicians are in the facility two days per week, thus enabling every patient to be observed by an M.D. at least once every week. This facility has 21 dialysis stations, each with a computerized monitoring system and a personal television for the patient to watch during the four hour treatment. Each machine costs approximately $15,000.
The most common causes of kidney failure are uncontrolled high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes. The most common symptoms are fluid retention and swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sometimes victims experience a metallic taste. It is possible for failed kidneys to recover function, but this is a rare occurrence. Robin Gay states she has only seen this happen on five occasions in all of her years of experience. The longest time she has known a patient to remain on dialysis is 22 years, and that patient is still in treatment.
Many of those on dialysis are on the kidney transplant lists for hospitals which provide this operation, but the list is long and the waiting time can last for many years. However, if a family member is willing to donate a kidney, and the necessary genetic matching is acceptable, a transplant can be arranged without waiting. The cut-off age for receiving a kidney through the donation waiting systems is 72 to 75 years of age.
Dialysis can be paid by Medicare under the Social Security program if the patient has at least 2.5 years of contribution history to the system. Also, VA benefits will qualify for this service. Of course, Medicaid will also pay for the treatment.
Robin Gay and the staff at the Dialysis Center are very excited about a planned relocation of the Center, which is scheduled to occur in October of this year when a new, custom designed and built, 7500 sq. ft. dialysis facility will be built on a site across the street from the Senior Citizens Center on Optimist Drive.
Thus, the next time you are driving down Lafayette Street in Marianna and see the Marianna Dialysis Center building on the corner at Russ Street, you will now know what is going on inside the building. Please take time to say a prayer for those who are receiving this wonderful treatment, and also pray that neither you nor any of your family ever has need of their services. Also, be thankful the facility is here in case the need does arrive.
To learn more about DaVita go to ww.davita.com/about/