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Features Health & Wellness Dialysis center to become a reality

Hemodialysis Diagram - By Yassine Mrabet (CC-BY-3.0)Final report calls for a seven-station facility in Macon.

Last week, Governor Beverly Perdue signed the report from Medical Facilities Planning Section of the Health and Human Services Department, giving Macon County the Need Adjustment necessary to move forward with securing a dialysis in the county.

“Everything is going really well and we are on our way to bringing a center to Macon County,” said County Commissioner Ronnie Beale. “We were so excited to get the word that the governor signed the paperwork, allowing us to move forward.”

The North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) approved Macon County a Certificate of Need for a dialysis center in September, and sent the final paper work to the governor’s office for ultimate approval.

Originally the SHCC issued a Certificate of Need for Macon County which would allow five dialysis stations be brought to a dialysis facility, by the time the report reached Perdue’s office, that need determination had been changed to reflect a greater need. The final report calls for a minimum of seven stations be established to service Maconians and surrounding areas.

“The state went back and evaluated the real number of residents who would benefit from the center and approved us for more stations than we originally expected,” said Beale. “I don't think they initially took into account residents in Otto or those who travel out of the state to Clayton to receive treatment.”

A Fresenius Medical Care hemodialysis machine (FMC 4008 H) Photo by Patrick GlanzThe governor’s approval allowed the 2012 State Medical Facilities Plan to be updated to include an adjustment of need determination for a new dialysis facility. As stated in the state’s report, the adjusted need determination is intended to allow development of a local facility in order to minimize travel for dialysis patients over hazardous mountain roads, particularly in adverse weather conditions.

According to Beale, the next step in the process is for the county to submit the paperwork for a Certificate of Need to the county, which has a March 15 deadline. During Tuesday nights commissioner's meeting, Chester Jones, attorney for Macon County, noted that the March 15 deadline was final and informed the board that he needed to begin work immediately to get the paperwork completed.

Beale stated that he hopes to encourage the state to expedite the process, which he intends to get underway at the first of next week.

“We had hoped that citizens wouldn't have to brave Cowee Mountain this winter to make it to Jackson County for treatment, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way,” said Beale, “But we are doing everything we can to ensure this will be the last winter they will have to make that dangerous trip.”

After the appropriate paperwork is submitted to the state, a private firm will begin the process of establishing the center within the county. According to Beale, the firm has already visited the county and has been looking for possible locations for the dialysis center. “Ideally, we would like to see an existing building be renovated if at all possible,” said Beale. “Possible locations have already been scouted out, which will help us move forward as soon as we get the final go ahead from the state.

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