Local residents in need of dialysis are looking for a new center where they can undergo the lifesaving treatment.
Fresenius Kidney Care Wythe, a dialysis center on Peppers Ferry Road, has informed patients that the business will close Dec. 5.
“This closing of a clinic will be my second in six years,” said patient Kathy Frye. “In March, I was transferred from a closing clinic in Marion to Wytheville, now the clinic in Wytheville is closing and patients are being scattered.”
Frye said the center staff is helping patients find a replacement center.
“There’s a list we had to choose from,” Frye said, including the Fresenius centers in Marion, Radford, Bluefield, Princeton and Galax.”
Frye said it will be difficult for some patients, especially elderly ones, to make the drive to a different center for the necessary appointments two or three times a week. She said it is hard enough to travel to Wytheville from her home in Rural Retreat with gas costing more than $3 a gallon.
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“Can you imagine someone who lives in Wytheville traveling to Bluefield?” Frye asked. “I’m there for three hours a day, three times a week. Sitting in a chair hooked to a machine that is cleaning your blood out for three hours or more three days a week. If we didn’t have that, we would die.”
Scott Sayres, vice president of corporate communications for Fresenius Medical Care North America, said the issue is staffing.
“Like most health care providers in the U.S., we are facing unprecedented and ongoing staffing issues, including shortages and significant cost challenges. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 350,000 healthcare professionals have left the industry since February 2020. Staffing is the single most critical issue facing healthcare today.
“Our priority remains providing safe, high-quality, and life-sustaining dialysis treatments to our patients in the southwestern Virginia area,” Sayres said in an email. “To ensure we meet that goal, we have made the difficult decision to close the Wytheville clinic. We realize this can be a stressful change for our patients and that’s why we are committed to working with them to determine their best dialysis treatment options, whether it’s at another Fresenius Kidney Care center or at a different provider. Some patients also have the option to transition to home dialysis if they’re able and interested.
“Ultimately, the decision on where to receive treatment is up to the patient, and our staff is emphasizing that it is critically important patients remain on their dialysis treatment schedule no matter what clinic they choose,” he said. “We continue to aggressively hire and train new local employees and our care teams are working hard every day to provide premium care to those battling kidney disease.”
The closure is going to be hard on patients, Frye said, adding “it may be a lack of staffing, but it’s not a lack of patients.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email firstname.lastname@example.org