Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 1, 2013

Relieving patient bottleneck

TAHLEQUAH — Thanks to a new partnership among Tahlequah City Hospital, the Cherokee Nation, the Renal and Hypertension Institute of Northeast Oklahoma at Sallisaw and DaVita Dialysis, a number of local patients who have been relegated to a waiting list may soon receive services.

According to Tahlequah City Hospital Nephrologist Dr. James Madison, DaVita Dialysis, which works locally in cooperation with Tahlequah City Hospital, services patients from all over Northeast Oklahoma.

“The largest patient population for dialysis is in Tahlequah,” said Madison. “We receive a large number of referrals from the Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospital on a contract basis, and they garner patients from all over this part of the state. So, their patients spill over to our clinic for specialty care.”

Madison said once  patients from CN Hastings receives treatment from TCH/DaVita, they prefer to remain with the same physician.

“We follow the course of their dialysis,” said Madison. “We receive the referrals because the other smaller clinics in other communities are operating at maximum capacity.”

The Sallisaw dialysis center provides services to both tribal and non-tribal patients in an area of the state that was lacking in facilities.

“Our clinic and the clinic at Stilwell are running at capacity, so patients have been placed on waiting lists,” said Madison. “To be moved from that list, a current patient has to either receive a transplant or die. By partnering with the Sallisaw clinic, we have freed up 18 spaces for patients who are on the waiting list here in Tahlequah.”

According to Madison, the Sallisaw center has the ability to service a total of 84 patients, six shifts of 14 patients each. The center is nearly 4,000 square feet and the space includes patient treatment areas, an education space, social service office and waiting area.

Madison said it’s not uncommon for a dialysis patient to travel a 100-mile round trip to receive treatment, and that the new clinic will help relieve that stress.

“We have very clear, evidence-based science that shows us the outcome of patients is better with less travel,” said Madison. “This new location will have a tremendous effect on their well-being, while allowing us to see new patients in Tahlequah.”

Medicare recipients will be allowed to use the facility once its Medicare certification is granted. Certification can take up to six to eight weeks once a facility opens due to an on-site survey by the state health department.

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