Years of persistent requests pay off for area dialysis patients.
Douglas County residents who require kidney dialysis to clean their blood will be able to get the service in Lawrence beginning later this year, or in early 1996.
A Topeka company, Kansas Dialysis Service, has signed a five-year lease for space to open a dialysis clinic at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's recently completed medical office building, 330 Ark.
The center's opening will spare dialysis patients of trips to Topeka three days a week. It will also fill a decades-old void in health-care offerings in Lawrence.
"Our patients have been asking for a clinic in Lawrence for some time," said Stan Langhofer, administrator of the company, which also operates dialysis clinics in Ottawa, Leavenworth and Manhattan.
The company is jointly owned by two Topeka hospitals, St. Francis and Stormont-Vail.
"I think it's been a long time coming," said Nazaree Doleman, a Lawrence woman who needed dialysis for 18 months until she received a kidney transplant in 1994. She traveled to Topeka three days a week for her three-hour dialysis sessions.
"People having to wake up at 5 a.m. and drive to Topeka to get dialysis, it makes no sense," she said.
This spring a group of Lawrence Memorial Hospital supporters challenged the hospital's crosstown rival, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., to bring dialysis to Lawrence.
Columbia is one of three groups that earlier this year proposed partnerships with LMH, which is owned by the city.
But LMH wound up able to lure the clinic to its new office building because the city's population growth -- and an increase in the number of area residents requiring dialysis -- finally made it economically feasible for a company to open a dialysis center in Lawrence, said Kesha Larson, an LMH spokesperson.
Cost has long been cited as the major obstacle to bringing dialysis to Lawrence, because relatively few people need it. Kansas Dialysis Service anticipates it will spend more than $250,000 to install equipment in its Lawrence clinic.
The company has 12 Lawrence patients who now travel to Topeka for their dialysis, and who plan to use the new facility in Lawrence. Others using dialysis facilities in Kansas City may also use it, Langhofer said.