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Dialysis center open house is culmination of nearly decade-long effort

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LOWVILLE — Edward Ingersoll has been pushing for the better part of a decade to bring dialysis service to Lowville.

“A lot of people said it couldn’t be done,” Mr. Ingersoll said.

So, it should be very satisfying for the local nonagenarian when DaVita Inc. opens its eight-station center at Lewis County General Hospital with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Tuesday.

“I’m glad that it’s finally going to happen,” he said. “I hope that the people that don’t have to go so far will be pleased with it.”

Mr. Ingersoll, who has been invited to speak at the 11:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, spearheaded the effort in 2005 by presenting to county legislators a petition signed by more than 2,400 residents requesting dialysis services here.

He also enlisted state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, to assist with the project and, in 2010, started a “Dollar-a-Week Club” to increase public awareness and raise funds for the dialysis center.

Now that the dialysis project has come to fruition, Mr. Ingersoll said, he is hoping to shift the focus of the club to assist other projects that could benefit the county.

“We are pleased to partner with DaVita to bring vital dialysis care options to the Lewis County community,” hospital CEO Eric R. Burch said. “The new outpatient center will give patients life-sustaining dialysis treatments, close to home.”

Following the ceremony, tours of the new facility will be offered from noon to 5 p.m.

A 7,200-square-foot addition was built last year off the west side of the Medical Arts Building’s first floor and basement to accommodate the dialysis center, and interior work on the facility is being completed.

The $1.9 million project is being funded primarily by a $904,837 state Department of Health commissioner’s discretionary grant and a $300,000 Empire State Development grant, along with money raised by the Lewis County Hospital Foundation — both through Mr. Ingersoll’s efforts and through other fundraisers such as an annual bowling tournament — and annual lease payments from DaVita.

The new center is to provide a local treatment option for Lewis County residents who now must travel to Watertown or Utica to receive dialysis. Up to 30 dialysis patients in Lewis County typically undergo four-hour treatments three days a week.

“DaVita is committed to working with physicians and hospitals in the tri-county region to help provide the best possible care for the area’s kidney care patients,” said Dawn P. Berry, facility administrator at the Lowville dialysis center. “One in 10 adults in the U.S. has kidney disease, and the need for kidney care continues to grow across the country.”

The new center is equipped with personal televisions and Wi-Fi service, she said.

“We are accepting new patients and will offer flexible shifts to accommodate work schedules because studies have found that when patients continue working after they go on dialysis, it can help them feel healthier, happier and more financially secure,” Mrs. Berry said. “For instance, people on dialysis who keep their jobs generally experience a lower rate of depression, have fewer hospitalizations and score higher on general health and vitality tests. For each of our centers, delivering superior patient care close to where our patients live has been a top priority.”

A graduate of Indian River Central School, Philadelphia, Mrs. Berry earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont. The registered dietitian previously worked at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, and Carthage Area Hospital.

Anyone seeking more information can call the center at 377-3090 or visit www.DaVita.com.

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