Dialysis treatment coming to Wheatland

The new dialysis facility here in Wheatland will house four chairs to start and will be located at Covenant Lutheran Church which sits at 1863 South Street. It is a small beginning for Wheatland, but a large step into the future of local people with kidney health issues.

WHEATLAND – With a final tour of the Fresenius Kidney Care Dialysis Center tomorrow, the members of a grassroots organization that have hopes of bringing dialysis to Wheatland are a step closer to seeing that vision become a reality.

“Fresinius Kidney Care came up to Wheatland surveyed the Covenant Lutheran Church’s old fellowship room,” Marge Scholten said. “They say that we have to make sure all of the electrical plug-ins are good enough so if they plug in all four units at one time, we don’t lose power. So the power boxes have to be checked.”

Scholten who has worked with the dialysis group in trying to secure medical help here in Wheatland has faithfully driven a van to Cheyenne every week carrying patients who are in need of dialysis. She has done that on a volunteer basis.

“As for the water systems, we have to figure out a way to pump water to the machines and then have another line that goes out,” Scholten said. “It will drain into the sewer system. Rick Robbins and Dave Young are handling all the electrical and plumbing for us.”

The group which has had about five meetings and daily email correspondence is aggressive on their moving ahead with the plans for Wheatland Dialysis.

“We’re hoping,” said Scholten. “We’re hoping and set a date for Memorial Day. It’s an open room and we’ll have four units in it right now, but we think we can do seven as there is another little room around the corner that would work.”

The good news and bad news all in one shot is if this takes off and there is a bigger need for dialysis than originally thought.

A possibility is having patients coming from Legacy Home which is an assisted living facility down the road from Covenant Lutheran.

Legacy Home Executive Director Josie Lauck said that policy at this time dictates that there can be no resident who has a need for dialysis simply because of the lengthy trip to Cheyenne and the liabilities that would be incurred.

Opening up a dialysis unit right down the road would change the game for Lauck and the assisted living facility.

“It would help,” Lauck said. “We typically don’t take people who are on active dialysis because either they had to go to Cheyenne or Casper. That’s a lot of drive time, sometimes a full day for them and a lot of times, it’s a weird time. In fact we just looked into this a few weeks ago. We have transportation, but it’s not 24/7 because they are part-time and have other jobs so we have to kind of work around driver schedules. Plus, if that person is on that bus, then we are liable for them and we felt that if we put ourself in that position, we’d also have to have appropriate staff go with them, to and from and that just wasn’t feasible either. So this would definitely change because we could take people to dialysis if it were just down the road.”

Legacy Home would be more accessible to people with those health issues may cause more of a need to Wheatland dialysis. The official title of the facility cannot bill itself as a center at this point.

“We can’t be a center because we’re not big enough,” Wheatland dialysis team member Margaret Jensen said. “We would need 18 to 20 chairs to be an actual dialysis center. The hope is that we can fill the chairs. We know all the van riders are going to have a chair but then we hope that other people will come.”

Another distinction is the home health dialysis chairs that are being used are different from the commercial chairs used in an actual dialysis center. The home health chair can only be used by one person as opposed to a commercial chair which can be cleaned after each use and then reused by another patient.

“We are hoping to gain some volunteers who would like to help out with the facility,” Jensen said. “If they could help the people with the chairs, cleanup and setup it would be good. The church is donating all the stuff, like the electricity, the water, the space, pretty much everything for this.”

The center plans to be open three and a half hours a day, five days a week. The exact hours are not set yet. The facility is going to be totally independent, run by Fresenius Kidney Care, through the church, but it is going to be considered home dialysis.

According to Scholten, if this does grow and the need becomes great, there are plans to build a dialysis center.

“We’ll do something,” Scholten said. “We’ll look for a building. I’m sure we can find a building where we can make it bigger, but it has to be in-home dialysis right now and they’re small units that belongs to each individual person. They can’t swap because the unit is individually calibrated to that patient.”

It’s small, but the door is opening to the possibility of dialysis in Wheatland and also the possibility to grow into a center. The people who have been working hard on this project would welcome that with open arms.

The need will be great for some good volunteers. If you feel that you would like to be a part of this project and want to get in on the ground floor, please contact either Margaret Jensen at [email protected] or Marge Scholten at [email protected].