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Guernsey Gazette | Dialysis treatment comes to Wheatland

WHEAT – With a final tour of the Fresenius Kidney Care Dialysis Center tomorrow, members of a grassroots organization hoping to bring dialysis to Wheatland are one step closer to seeing that vision come true.

“Fresinius Kidney Care came to Wheatland inspected the former communion hall of the Covenant Lutheran Church,” Marge Scholten said. “They say we need to make sure all the electrical outlets are good enough that if they plug in all four units at the same time, we don’t lose power. So the power boxes need to be checked.

Scholten, who has worked with the dialysis group to try to get medical help here in Wheatland, has faithfully driven a van to Cheyenne each week carrying patients who need dialysis. She did it voluntarily.

“When it comes to water systems, we have to find a way to pump the water to the machines and then have another line go off,” Scholten said. “It will flow into the sewers. Rick Robbins and Dave Young do all the electrical and plumbing for us.

The group, which has had about five meetings and daily email correspondence, is determined to move forward with Wheatland Dialysis plans.

“We hope,” Scholten said. “We hope and set a date for Memorial Day. It’s an open room and we will have four units at the moment, but we think we can do seven as there is another small room around the corner that would work.

The good news and the bad news all of a sudden is if it takes off and there’s a greater need for dialysis than originally thought.

One possibility is to have patients from Legacy Home, which is an assisted living facility on Covenant Lutheran Road.

Legacy Home executive director Josie Lauck said current policy states that no resident may require dialysis simply because of the long trip to Cheyenne and the responsibilities that would result.

Opening a dialysis unit just down the street would be a game-changer for Lauck and assisted living.

“That would help,” Lauck said. “We usually don’t accept people on active dialysis because they had to go to Cheyenne or Casper. It’s a lot of driving time, sometimes a full day for them and often it’s a weird time. In fact, we just looked at this a few weeks ago. We have transportation but it’s not 24/7 as they are part time and have other jobs so we have to accommodate the schedules of the drivers. Also, if that person is on that bus, we’re responsible for that and we felt that if we put ourselves in that position, we also had to have appropriate personnel to escort them back and forth and that just wasn’t not doable either. So that would definitely change because we could get people on dialysis if it was just up the road.

Legacy Home would be more accessible to people with these health conditions who may require more Wheatland dialysis. The official title of the establishment cannot present itself as a center at this stage.

“We can’t be a center because we’re not big enough,” said Margaret Jensen, a member of Wheatland’s dialysis team. “We would need 18 to 20 chairs to be a real dialysis center. The hope is that we can fill the chairs. We know that all van drivers will have a chair, but we hope more people will come.

Another distinction is that the home dialysis chairs used are different from the commercial chairs used in an actual dialysis center. The home health chair can only be used by one person unlike a commercial chair which can be cleaned after each use and then reused by another patient.

“We’re hoping to gain volunteers who would like to help with the installation,” Jensen said. “If they could help people with the chairs, the cleaning and the installation, that would be great. The church donates everything, like electricity, water, space, pretty much everything for that.

The center plans to be open three and a half hours a day, five days a week. The exact times are not yet fixed. The facility will be completely independent, run by Fresenius Kidney Care, through the church, but it will be considered home dialysis.

According to Scholten, if this develops and the need becomes great, there are plans to build a dialysis center.

“We will do something,” Scholten said. “We are going to look for a building. I’m sure we can find a building where we can expand it, but it has to be home dialysis right now and it’s small units that belong to each person. They cannot be exchanged because the device is calibrated individually for this patient.

It’s small, but the door opens to the possibility of dialysis at Wheatland and also the possibility of becoming a center. The people who worked hard on this project would welcome it with open arms.

There will be a great need for some good volunteers. If you think you would like to be part of this project and would like to enter on the ground floor, please contact Margaret Jensen at [email protected] or Marge Scholten at [email protected].