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Wake Forest Asks State for Permission To Open Three More Dialysis Centers

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Faced with a mushrooming caseload, Wake Forest University Health Sciences has asked the state to approve the addition of three dialysis centers to the ten it already operates.

Certificate of need applications were filed in August for new facilities in Thomasville and western Iredell County. Both would have ten dialysis stations -- enough to treat 40 patients a week. Decisions on the centers are expected in February.

The third center would be an 11-station King Dialysis Center. Wake Forest University Health Sciences decided to file for the center after the state plan showed a need for a dialysis center in Stokes County. No one else had filed for the center by the Oct. 1 deadline. A decision is expected in April.

In addition, Health Sciences asked to add seven additional stations to the existing 13 at its Triad Dialysis Center in High Point near Piedmont Triad International Airport; a decision is also expected in April.

To operate the new centers, Health Sciences is asking the state to add 18 certified dialysis stations to the 311 it already operates and to allow the transfer of 20 existing stations to the proposed centers.

As of Oct. 1, the ten existing centers were serving a total of 993 patients whose kidneys have failed completely -- a condition known as end stage kidney disease. Another 161 patients are being treated at home, using a different method of dialysis.

The number of patients needing dialysis for end stage kidney disease is exploding nationally at the rate of more than 6 percent a year. But kidney failure is a much bigger problem in North Carolina, because of uncontrolled high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes. Both problems affect a disproportionate number of African-Americans.

Early referral of many of these patients to nephrologists may reduce the number of cases that progress to irreversible kidney failure.

The school now operates three centers in Forsyth County, two each in Guilford, Surry and Iredell counties and one in Davidson County.

While the centers are supervised by physicians from the Section on Nephrology of the Department of Internal Medicine, under the direction of John M. Burkart, M.D., community nephrologists also participate in treating their patients in the centers. ###

Contact: Robert Conn, Karen Richardson or Mark Wright at (336) 716-4587

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