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Long-awaited dialysis center opens in Lowville

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LOWVILLE — At long last, dialysis service has come to Lewis County.

“I really think it’s a much-needed service for the county,” Lewis County General Hospital Chief Executive Officer Eric R. Burch said Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new dialysis center at the county-owned hospital.

Mr. Burch said that longtime dialysis proponent Edward Ingersoll challenged him several years ago to find a partner to operate a center here, and, after a couple of misses, he finally found one in DaVita Inc.

“He did get frustrated with me, but he always asked the question, ‘Have we asked everybody?’” Mr. Burch said.

“I’m really glad this is over, and I’d like to thank the people who made this possible,” Mr. Ingersoll said.

The local nonagenarian first noted the more than 2,400 people who in 2005 signed a petition requesting dialysis services, which he subsequently presented to county legislators to kick off the effort. He also thanked county and state lawmakers who assisted with the project, saving the biggest praise for Mr. Burch.

“He has done more and worked harder to get this going than anyone else,” Mr. Ingersoll said.

County Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, said the new center will be beneficial not only to current patients but also to county residents who require renal treatment in the future.

“At DaVita, we consider ourselves a community first and a company second,” said Susan Jessen, the company’s regional operations director.

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 eight-station dialysis center.

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 collected 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.

Rena Shaw, a resident of the Bateman Apartments in downtown Lowville, is one of them, having received regular treatments in Watertown for the past five years.

While uncertain whether dialysis service would ever finally be available here, she said having a center “five minutes from my home” will be a welcome change.

Tuesday’s ceremony was the culmination of nearly a decadelong effort to bring dialysis service to this community.

Lewis County legislators in 2006 and 2007 supported certificate-of-need submissions that would have allowed Renal Care of Northern New York, Watertown, to set up a dialysis operation here, but those plans never came to fruition.

Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare, Utica, in fall 2009 submitted another certificate-of-need application. However, by the time the project received state approval, Faxton St. Luke’s officials had decided not to move forward, leaving local officials searching for another partner. They found one in 2011 in DaVita, a company based in Denver that operates similar centers throughout the country.

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




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