New dialysis complex in Chestnut Hill holds open house

Delaware Valley Nephrology and Fresenius Dialysis Center celebrated the opening of its new facility with an open house and tour of the site Tuesday evening. The medical building, located at 10 E. Moreland Avenue in Chestnut Hill, officially opened for business in March. Fresenius treats 140 patients ranging in age from their early 20s to elderly clients who are in their 90s.

The light-filled, spacious new location holds the dialysis center run by Germany-based Fresenius. Just next door are the medical offices of Delaware Valley Nephrology & Hypertension Association whose seven physicians provide medical consulting services for the dialysis clinic.

“It’s over-the-top beautiful!” gushed Elizabeth Dipietro, clinical manager for Fresenius Montgomery-East. DiPietro was one of several area visiting nurses who attended the open house.

The former industrial site provides a loft-like atmosphere for the facility, with high ceilings and numerous large windows which bathe the rooms in light. It’s a dramatic change from Fresenius’ former Mt. Airy location at 6656 Germantown Avenue, a dilapidated building which was dark, cramped and dingy. Along with a new building, the center also acquired all new medical equipment.

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“You feel better about coming in when the facility is larger, cleaner, fresher” and more spacious stated Fresenius patient, Joy Carter. Carter, who has been on dialysis for more then two years, stopped by the open house to celebrate the new location even though she had just been in earlier for treatment and it was her birthday. “I love this one!” she exclaimed, expressing delight in the improved facility.

Inside, there is a 10 chair self-care unit with one nurses’ station, serving approximately 40 patients who are taught how to administer their own dialysis treatment with close supervision at all times.

The main unit, which provides only hemodialysis, houses 27 chairs and serves over 100 patients daily. There is also one isolation room in that section of the clinic. Four large nurses stations are in the main unit, which has two registered nurses for every 12 patients and and six patient care technicians. Maribeth Huyett, director of operations explained that during treatment hours, patient care technicians (PCT) are in constant circulation around the dialysis stations.

Every dialysis station, in both units, is equipped with an individual television screen accessed by remote control devices where patients plug in headphones so as not to disturb others. The dialysis stations are not curtained, but mobile screens are available for some privacy between stations by patient request. Huyett noted that the clinic does not use traditional hospital curtains because the nurses and PCTs need to be able to see both the patients and the dialysis machines at all times.

Fresenius also has a home therapy support unit on site. The unit teaches patients and a partner how to do either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis at home on a portable dialysis machine. Home therapy nurse, Sheila Richmond, R.N., said right now there are 17 patients in the home therapy program who are followed and monitored closely by Fresenius staff. Patients also receive periodic clinical visits in their home. Treating oneself at home means patients can do dialysis treatments on their own schedule.

Carter says she opts for the self-care unit because learning more about the process and being more actively involved in her own care enables her to better manage her medical condition. Self-care unit patients can progress to home therapy if they desire. Carter joked that she’s not doing self venipuncture yet, “because I hate needles!”

Dialysis is a life-saving renal replacement therapy, which cleanses the blood of waste products for those whose kidneys are in renal failure. It is a lengthy four hour (slightly longer in some cases) process which must be done three days a week for the rest of the patient’s life. Home therapy patients give themselves dialysis five to six days a week, for a shorter duration (two and a half to three hours). Those who need dialysis are only able to stop therapy with a kidney transplant. However, not every patient is medically eligible to receive one.

Huyett shared that finding a suitable space for Fresenius’ new dialysis center had been a difficult and anxious enterprise. “We’re so happy to provide a much better environment for our patients. They deserve it.” she said.

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