If you go
What: Fresenius Medical Care Clark County dialysis center open house.
When: 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Fresenius Medical Care Clark County, 3921 S.W. 13th Ave., Battle Ground.
Why: Tour the new facility, see demonstrations of the latest dialysis technology and talk with staff about treatment options.
More information: www.ultracare-dialysis.com or 360-687-8527.
Dialysis patients and the overcrowded facilities trying to meet the growing need for treatment are getting a little relief.
Fresenius Medical Care has opened its new 24-station dialysis facility at 3921 S.W. 13th Ave. in Battle Ground. The Fresenius Medical Care Clark County dialysis center is currently taking patients from its two other local clinics — one in Salmon Creek, the other in Cascade Park — but next week will open its doors to new patients, said clinical manager Sadie Funk.
"We're expecting rapid growth," she said.
Funk expects the Battle Ground center will be nearing its 138-patient capacity within 6 months to a year. Fresenius' other local centers were operating above capacity for months in order to meet need until the new facility was ready.
The existing centers added middle-of-the-night dialysis shifts to accommodate patients and were running seven treatment shifts six days a week. That meant some patients and staff were at the facility until 4 a.m., when the final shift ended, Funk said.
"It's alleviating that," Funk said of the new center. "It's allowing patients to not have to run in the evening and the late-night shift."
The new facility also allows North Clark County residents to get treatment closer to home, Funk said.
But opening the Battle Ground dialysis center wasn't without obstacles.
In order to build new centers, dialysis providers must apply for a certificate of need from the Washington State Department of Health. In January 2011, both Fresenius and DaVita Healthcare Partners, which operates a dialysis center near Westfield Vancouver mall, submitted proposals to build new facilities in Battle Ground.
After a lengthy approval and appeals process, the two companies and the state health department reached an agreement in March 2013 that allowed both Fresenius and DaVita to open dialysis centers in Battle Ground. The decision to approve two facilities was made due to the staggering need for dialysis care in Clark County, state health officials said.
Every year, the health department uses current dialysis population information to project the need in three years. In 2011, when Fresenius and DaVita applied for a certificate of need, Clark County's projected need was for 24 additional stations. The next year, the state projected a need for another 36 stations in the county.
Typically, projected need is for six to nine additional stations, according to the health department.
DaVita is planning to open its Battle Ground dialysis facility in December 2015 — the soonest allowed under the terms of the agreement with the health department.
The Fresenius Battle Ground center, which is just three weeks into operations, is already treating two dozen patients. They're running two shifts — morning and mid-morning — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As patient numbers increase, they'll add shifts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and may consider an evening shift, Funk said.
Fresenius is hosting an open house at its new Battle Ground facility from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday.