5/31/02 - New Dialysis Center

According to the National Institutes of Health, America is in the middle of a diabetes epidemic. That means more people than ever need life-saving kidney dialysis and there's more strain on available resources. Now there's work underway to bring more help for kidney patients to the Heartland. Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston broke ground Friday for a new dialysis center. It's something that staff and patients say they've needed for years!

Dialysis patient Kim Meunier says, "It was a scary thing to know you have to be hooked up to a machine." For the past three months, the dialysis unit at Missouri Delta has been a familiar site to Meunier. A rare disease called good pasture is shutting down her lungs and kidneys. The only thing keeping her alive is the dialysis she gets three times a week.

She's not alone. With a diabetes epidemic and an aging population, the dialysis demand is higher than ever. In fact, one floor down there's a room packed with people in the same situation. "Right now we're crowded," Meunier says. "I started out downstairs and I was down there one day and it's even crowded down there. We don't have much room, we're sandwiched in here." Dr. Mowaffaq Said says, "We are running out of space, and have an increased number of patients who need to be on dialysis."

The dialysis unit has been running over capacity for a year now, they have to keep it open three hours later than usual to get all the patients into the unit. But doctors and patients both hope a new dialysis center to be built behind the hospital changes that. Hospital CEO Charles Ancell says, "What we will have is a regional dialysis center that's ultra modern and able to handle the patients we have."

And handle the people who are on a waiting list, people who have to drive to other towns to get the life saving treatment. Dr. Said says, "Our patients have to drive to Cape, Poplar Bluff, sometimes Kennett. We serve kind of a big area in Sikeston so that will make it easier for them to come and stay." Something that may make things a little easier on the patients, who need whatever help they can get. "Dialysis is life saving, short of if patients don't get transplantation. this is their only hope to stay alive," Dr. Said says.

They're hoping construction of the dialysis center will be completed in a year.