County Commissioner Ronnie Beale will be traveling to Raleigh on Friday after receiving an invitation to here the recommendation of the Medical Facilities Planning Section and the North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council regarding the petition for a certificate of need for a dialysis center in Macon County.
If the petition is approved, a Certificate of Need will be issued for Macon County, allowing a dialysis center to be started and operated in Franklin. Commissioner Beale has taken on the responsibility of bringing the dialysis center to Macon County, and is hopeful of the results he will be given on Friday. “We are very hopeful that we will get a positive recommendation on Friday, and that the report will be in our favorite,” explained Beale.
After Franklin resident John Davis convinced the Macon County board of commissioners that the County needs its own dialysis center, the board drafted a resolution with the intent of adjusting the need determination given in the Proposed North Carolina State Medical Facilities plan for 2012.
The June 14 decision to began a petition for a dialysis center came after Davis' compelling presentation to the board. Davis explained that three times a week – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – he drives his wife, Sue, to a dialysis center in Sylva where she receives treatment for End Stage Renal Disease. Davis' efforts assured the board that the time, cost and inconvenience associated the 50-mile plus round-trip take their toll not only on Davis but also for 24 other Macon County residents who also have to make the trip.
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.
According to department standards, 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).
Commissioner Beale diligently fought to show the state that not only does Macon County meet the criteria needed for a center, but also emphasized the urgent need for immediate action within the County.
Earlier this summer, Beale made a presentation before members of the committee at a public hearing in Asheville. In his testimony, he informed the committee that the county has 34 known residents who must travel to Jackson County to receive dialysis at this time. Beale also informed the board that there are residents in southern areas of the County who are forced ti travel south across the Georgia state-line for treatment at a Clayton facility. Commissioner Beale also explained that the County also has as many as 9,000 second homes, which nearly doubles the population with seasonal residents, many of whom are of retirement age and more prone to kidney conditions which require dialysis. Beale also reiterated the problem with driving over Cowee Mountain for some residents, especially in the winter months when often times the mountain is impassable.
According to Beale, if the state department decided to reject the County's resolution and issue a certificate of need, he will begin the process all over again and continue to fight for the residents of Macon County. “If for some reason we don't get a positive report on Friday, we can repetition and we will certainly do that and whatever else we can to help the people of this County,” assured Beale.