Kidney center gets new digs

For the employees at the Olympic Peninsula Kidney Center’s new Bremerton location, the 15,000 square-foot facility is far more effective than the old site across the block.

The center, located at 2613 Wheaton Way, opened in October and contains one large dialysis room with 19 chairs. Each chair has personalized TV stations and new heaters to help the patients undergo their daily three to four hours of dialysis, the process of cleansing blood for people with various forms of kidney failure.

In the old center, the patients were separated into a few different rooms, which made it far more difficult for doctors to communicate, said Katrina Russell, center administrator.

“We decided we needed about twice the space,” she said. “We are more efficient with staffing, monitoring the patients and teamwork.”

Jane Garity, another administrator at the center, said the new facility’s larger location is more soothing for the patients, many of whom will be there for their final days.

“We want people to be comfortable because for some people, this is a stop gap between a transplant and a new life, while others will be here for the remainder of their lives,” she said.

The center hopes to eventually provide dialysis for 28 patients at a time. Garity said the increase in Americans with diabetes during the past decade has led to an influx in people with kidney disease.

The National Kidney Foundation estimates about 26 million Americans have some form of chronic kidney disease, with more than 355,000 dependent on dialysis for survival.

“To see the growth in patients is a double-edged sword because it’s great we can help but it’s sad they have to be here,” Garity said.

Russell said funding for the new facility came from the center’s reserve fund. It cost abut $3.6 million to buy the building and $1.1 million in renovation costs.

The center, the only of its type in Kitsap, opened its first location in 1980 after becoming certified by Medicare. It added a second location in Port Orchard in April 2001, followed by a Poulsbo location in June 2006.

The non-profit will open its first center outside of Kitsap next year, in Port Townsend.

For the employees, there is little debate about the improvements the new center offers.

“Everyone agreed that the existing facility wasn’t meeting our needs,” Russell said. “It was definitely an unanimous decision to find a new facility.”

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