Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To the Editor:

Just a note of thanks to family and friends of my mother Patricia Smith who donated, in memorium, over $1,200 to the Mercy Hospital Foundation for "Fort Scott Dialysis." It was indicated to me by Mercy Health Center Fort Scott that they are due to conduct a feasibility study for a dialysis treatment facility in Fort Scott. Currently, Fort Scott-area dialysis out-patients must travel to Fresenius Dialysis Center in Pittsburg three times a week for their three-four-hour dialysis treatment sessions, which depending upon the time of day of the session, can end up eating up the better part of an entire day. Fort Scott Manor and Medicalodges Fort Scott each must bus their dialysis patients to Fresenius Pittsburg for treatments. Fresenius generally tries to accommodate patients who have jobs by scheduling them first thing in the morning at 6 a.m., but it's conceivable that these patients must wake up at 4:30 a.m. or before to get to their treatments on time. Then, depending upon their type of employment, these working patients must work late after returning from their treatments to help offset their time lost in the mornings.

Moreover, Fort Scott-area dialysis in-patients must travel to either Joplin or Kansas City where they can receive dialysis treatments while they are hospitalized. Currently, if someone who is on dialysis goes to the Mercy Hospital Fort Scott emergency room for any reason (not just kidney-related), the doctors and staff there will stabilize the patient and determine the problem and then if it is apparent that a hospital stay of several days is likely, they'll immediately transport that patient via ambulance to Joplin (or Kansas City) so that the patient may receive in-patient dialysis treatment while hospitalized. In the case of such an emergency room visit by my mother, the temporary St. John's in Joplin was on "diversion" that particular night (i.e., they couldn't take any more new patients) and she was taken instead to Freeman Hospital.

Dialysis treatments are two-fold: 1) they filter toxins out of the blood; 2) they remove excess fluid from the body (e.g., fluid swelling in the ankles, feet, legs and fluid buildup in the lungs). Typically, people who require dialysis first suffered from either diabetes or hypertension/high blood pressure. In some cases, depending upon the severity, a diminished kidney function can be treated and corrected through dialysis to the point where dialysis treatments become no longer necessary. In other cases where a diminished kidney function cannot be reversed, the dialysis patient is considered "chronic," meaning that they'll need dialysis for the rest of their life (in the absence of a kidney transplant). Contrary to my own preconceptions about dialysis, treatments are not at all painful to undergo to the extent that a dialysis patient doesn't even feel it while the treatment is taking place. A dialysis patient may likely feel very tired after a dialysis treatment. It depends, but even in the case of a severely diminished kidney function, a person may still be able to urinate on their own. Dialysis can also make it possible for a patient to urinate again after they've not being able to urinate for a time.

Obviously, my note here is to also raise awareness about dialysis and the lack of treatment currently available within Fort Scott. If you have a family member or a friend on dialysis or who is at risk or you just think a dialysis treatment facility here is a good idea, please contact Reta Baker or Tina Rockhold at Mercy Health Fort Scott.

Charles Smith

Fort Scott