Laying the Foundation

GLOVERSVILLE – For Dr. Irina Gelman, director of the Fulton County Public Health Department, the foundation ceremony held at the construction site for the new dialysis center at Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home, was especially personal.

“This really hits home for me,” said Gelman. “My dad passed recently after being on dialysis, then a transplant [patient] and then back on dialysis, but when he wanted to visit, I found myself searching for a place where he could continue to get his treatment on the same schedule he had at home. Life isn’t easy for a dialysis patient and with this new center, patients will not have to travel as far and it will give them back some of their time.”

Gelman’s father was on dialysis for 10 years, with the exception of the short time he had a transplanted kidney. He passed away in January.

The foundation ceremony was held Friday at the site of the Gloversville Dailysis Center at Nathan Littauer Hospital. The center is a collaboration between Nathan Littauer and American Renal Associates of Amsterdam.

Dr. Soo Lee, Dr. Hani Shahata and Dr. Ayma Morgan, all of American Renal Associates, will continue to work out their Amsterdam office, but will have offices at the center.

The dialysis center is the first in Fulton County and is one of the few in the country directly attached to a nursing home.

The center was made possible when Nathan Littauer was one of several Fulton County entities that received a Consolidated Funding Application award from New York state last December.

The hospital is receiving $740,000 from Empire State Development to expand its primary care services and to contribute to the cost of building the dialysis center, according to a release.

The collaboration began last August between American Renal Associates and Nathan Littauer.

Laurence Kelly, president and CEO of Nathan Littauer, said this was an exciting time for the hospital and American Renal Associates.

“We are here for the laying of the foundation ceremony – as you can see we have already put shovel to the ground,” said Kelly. “This collaboration with Dr. Lee of American Renal Associates to bring to Fulton County a state-of-the-art dialysis center so patients won’t have to travel so far for care is a wonderful accomplishment.”

Continuing, he said the center would be a good thing for everyone.

“It’s going to be a great project,” said Kelly.

He said the hospital expected the new center to enter a “test phase” in December and be treating the first patients by the first of the year.

“Dec. 1 we will be entering the test phase,” said Kelly. “We will test equipment and make sure all the new technology is working correctly. We will begin receiving our first patients in January.”

Lee said the facility will create approximately a dozen new jobs with “opportunity to expand.”

The facility will have state-of-the-art equipment with 13 dialysis chairs and space to add an additional two.

Lee said people from as far north as Speculator and the Adirondacks have to travel to Amsterdam for treatment, adding more time to their day when they are scheduled for treatment.

“When you think of three or four hours of treatment, it doesn’t seem like much, then you add travel time to and from, getting ready time, and all the time needed to prep for the treatment, it adds up to a lot of time,” said Kelly, adding the center expected to treat 60 patients a week.

Dialysis patients typically have treatment three times a week, lasting three to four hours each time.

Lee said the center will be open six days a week to accommodate the dialysis patients’ treatment schedules. Three of the days will have three shifts and the remaining three will have two shifts.

Kelly said the new center will be a benefit to residents of the nursing home to have access to a dialysis center without having to travel for treatment.

“It is bad enough to be in Nathan Littauer for rehabilitation, but to be shipped out [for treatment] is difficult on the patient,” said Kelly. “Those in Nathan Littauer won’t even have to leave the hospital.”

Lee said the center will be offering all the latest technology and comforts for patients being treated.

The chairs, he said, have heated seats and massage controls. In addition, each patient has a small television to watch, as well as use of an iPad.

“My vision has always been to put a dialysis facility next to a nursing home,” said Lee.

He said the center would enable his team to offer the best treatment to patients, without them having to travel any great distances.

Kelly said the new center will be serving area patients suffering from kidney disease on an outpatient basis.

“Remember, there are lots of people with chronic kidney disease who are not sick enough to have to do dailysis,” said Kelly.

“Our ultimate objective is to keep them from having to do dailysis,” added Lee. “Ultimately we want to transplant the patient.”

“This is a phenomenal opportunity for Fulton County,” said Gelman. “It is a tremendous addition to the services offered in the community.”

“It is a win/win for the patients, their families and the doctors,” said Kelly.