Columbia County's first dialysis clinic recently opened with a unique offering: dialysis while you sleep.
Fresenius Medical Care North America, the country's largest dialysis clinic network, opened the doors to its newest clinic in Evans on Feb. 13 for traditional hemodialysis during daytime hours, said Patricia Jarvis, the clinic manager.
For people with kidney failure, dialysis offers the only method, short of a kidney transplant, to clean waste products and excess fluids from the blood. Most patients must go to a hospital or dialysis clinic for three- to-six-hour sessions three times each week as directed by their physicians, Jarvis said.
On May 15, the clinic at 3000 McCrary Court, off Industrial Park Drive, will start offering nocturnal dialysis, which allows the machines to clean blood while the patient sleeps.
Fresenius Medical Care of Evans is the only clinic in the Augusta area to provide the new service.
"We are kind of excited about that," Jarvis said. "It is good for patients that are very active, especially during the day in their lifestyle, and need more flexibility."
Nighttime dialysis takes up to eight hours, but is done at a slower pace, reducing stress on the patient's body, Jarvis said.
The longer, slower pace is especially helpful for patients who tend to retain fluids between treatments with dialysis.
Jarvis said nocturnal dialysis often can lead to patients enjoying more energy, retaining less fluid, fewer diet restrictions, lower blood pressure and, in many cases, a decreased dependency on medications.
"That's the ultimate thing; they feel so much better," Jarvis said, adding that three candidates are ready to begin the nocturnal dialysis on May 15. "We want this to be like a home away from home, especially for our nocturnal patients. We want to make it as comfortable for them as possible."
The nighttime dialysis sessions will be held Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8:30-9 p.m. until 5-5:30 a.m., Jarvis said, giving the patient time to go home and handle any daily morning routines.
"You still have time to go home before work or school," Jarvis said. "If they have kids, they can go home and get ready to get their kids ready to get on the bus to go to school."
The clinic is equipped with 10 beds, restrooms and private dressing and shower rooms. Night patients get all the amenities of the daytime patients, including rounds made by their own physicians, and access to a social worker and dietician, Jarvis said.
Jarvis said some people were interested in the clinic because of the Columbia County location. All patients have access to a touch-screen satellite television, Internet and educational materials to learn about kidney health and illnesses.
Jarvis said any potential patients are welcome to visit the clinic and get informational brochures, but patients must be referred by their physicians.
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