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Features Health & Wellness DaVita dialysis facility could open as early as next fall

The North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) voted to approve at least five stations for the new Franklin Township Dialysis Center set to break ground in January.The highly anticipated and valiantly fought for dialysis center is in the home stretch of the planning phase. During November's regularly scheduled Macon County Board of Commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Ronnie Beale updated the board and informed them that the ground breaking for the new facility could be held as early as the first week in January.

“With lease negotiations nearly complete, the people of Macon County will be able to receive the life-saving treatment so many desperately need right here at home within a year,” said Beale. “This has been a long process, but I think in the end, it will be the best thing we could possible do for the people of the community.”

After community members first began to urge the state to bring a Davita Dialysis center to Macon County about a year and half ago, the state Department of Health and Human Services approved the certificate of need and allowed Davita to begin looking for a location for the new facility.

According to Bill Hyland, director of Healthcare Planning for Davita Inc., the projected facility is currently in confidential negotiations with a potential landlord, and is anticipated to be completed as early as next month. “We anticipate that a lease will be signed by the end of December,” said Hyland. “Construction will begin once the lease is signed, a general contractor is awarded the contact through a bidding process and the necessary permits are secured.”

Hyland said that as soon as the lease is final, the location of the site for the new facility will be announced. “DaVita is looking forward to the development of the dialysis facility in Macon County,” said Hyland. “The name of the facility will be Franklin Township Dialysis.”

With construction being able to get underway at the first of the year, patients can look forward to not having to battle Cowee Mountain next winter to receive care in the Sylva Davita Center.

“The construction phase of the project will take approximately six months,” said Hyland. “Once the construction phase is completed, we will install the furniture and equipment. When all of the equipment is in place and has been tested, we will be ready for certification of the facility. This will require an on-site visit by the North Carolina state agency responsible for the certification of dialysis facilities. Once the facility is certified, the facility will open.”

The process to bring a dialysis facility to Macon County started in June 2011 when Macon County resident John Davis informed commissioners that he, and many others, have to travel to Jackson County three times a week for dialysis care. Three times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – Davis drives his wife, Sue, to a dialysis center in Sylva where she receives treatment for End Stage Renal Disease. The time, cost and inconvenience associated the 50-mile plus round-trip take their toll and inspired Davis to do something about it.

The Department of Health and Human Services regulates the development of all new healthcare facilities in the state, including dialysis centers, for which it analyzes and determines need on a county-by-county basis, as published in the State Medical Facilities Plan.

In order to be cost effective and assure quality of care, the state requires that new dialysis facilities have a projected need for at least 10 dialysis stations (or 32 patients). After a back and forth with the state, and the consideration of second home owners who would benefit from the new facility, Macon County received the approval needed for the facility in September 2011.

The North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) voted to unanimously approve Macon County’s Petition for Adjustment to Need Determination in September essentially paving the way for a dialysis center to be built in the county. Beale traveled to Raleigh to hear the results of a vote from the Facilities Planning Section of the Health and Human Services Department. The Facilities Planning Section approved the county’s petition and sent it to the SHCC for a final vote. Beale was in Raleigh to hear the news in person and reported that the SHCC approved five stations for the county.

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