Three days every week, Ed Parda travels three hours roundtrip from his dwelling in Piscataquis County to a dialysis clinic in Skowhegan for therapy that he wants to remain alive.
Parda, 82, has end-stage kidney illness, that means his kidneys are broken and don’t filter waste and additional fluid from his blood in addition to they need to. Therapy choices for such sufferers are lifelong dialysis or a transplant.
Throughout every go to to Dialysis Clinic, Inc., Parda spends about 4 hours hooked as much as a machine that removes blood from his physique, filters it and returns the cleaned blood to his physique. After DaVita clinics in Bangor, Brewer, Ellsworth and Lincoln turned him away as a result of they have been full, Parda landed a spot in Skowhegan, he mentioned.
Parda’s expertise is reflective of what many Piscataquis County residents face, which is proscribed entry to well being and social providers and distance from extra populated service facilities.
That not even clinics in Higher Bangor may accommodate Parda immediately exhibits how troublesome it may be to entry the lifesaving therapy, although waitlists fluctuate.
He’s certainly one of nearly 800,000 adults in the USA dwelling with end-stage kidney illness, in line with a report from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Parda declined being placed on a waitlist for a kidney transplant as a result of somebody youthful with a household would profit greater than him, he mentioned.
Piscataquis County is the oldest and third poorest county in Maine. Residents face boundaries associated to broadband, digital literacy and transportation. The county additionally has worse well being outcomes than the state in some areas, similar to most cancers deaths and heart problems deaths, in line with its 2021 well being wants evaluation.
“It appears I’ve to journey to the 4 corners of the Earth for therapy just because Piscataquis County has no dialysis amenities,” Parda mentioned. “I’m not the one one confronted with this travesty.”
The dearth of clinics close to him makes Parda really feel pissed off and not noted as a affected person, he mentioned. Spending so many hours sitting in a automobile and a dialysis chair is mentally taxing, and Parda in contrast the expertise to having a full-time job once more.
Parda, who lives in Williamsburg Township, wonders why Piscataquis County has two hospitals and Katahdin Valley Well being Middle is increasing within the space however it lacks dialysis providers.
Neither Northern Gentle Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft nor Northern Gentle C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville affords dialysis. In Bangor, Japanese Maine Medical Middle offered its three outpatient dialysis clinics to DaVita Inc. a few decade in the past, which marked the corporate’s first foray into Maine.
DaVita spokesperson Matthew Clyburn declined to say whether or not the corporate’s facilities in Maine have waitlists, however they usually consider affected person capability and staffing, he mentioned.
“We’re at the moment making operational adjustments so as to serve much more sufferers dwelling with end-stage kidney illness,” he mentioned in a press release.
Each nationally and in Maine, most outpatient dialysis facilities are operated by massive nationwide firms that decide the place providers are situated, mentioned Andy Soucier, Mayo and C.A. Dean spokesperson.
“Within the present atmosphere, it’s more and more uncommon and really troublesome for small rural hospitals to begin and maintain outpatient dialysis providers,” he mentioned. “Given this, our focus is on connecting sufferers to present dialysis providers, together with in-person facilities in different counties and at-home dialysis.”
Northern Gentle A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle is the one hospital-operated nonprofit dialysis heart in Maine and certainly one of a restricted quantity throughout the nation, spokesperson Karen Gonya mentioned.
The clinic opened in 1997, and in the present day it has 16 stations and affords two shifts a day, six days every week, she mentioned. Employees can take care of 64 sufferers however have 48 per week now. They arrive from Aroostook and Penobscot counties, and generally from farther away in the event that they want dialysis on a short lived foundation whereas visiting household within the area, she mentioned.
Sufferers journey from so far as Danforth and Fort Kent, that are about 150 miles and 120 miles roundtrip, respectively, she mentioned.
“It is a extremely specialised, advanced service which requires an unlimited quantity of infrastructure to determine and preserve,” she mentioned, noting that group fundraising allowed the power to open.
From 2000 to 2019, new circumstances of end-stage kidney illness elevated almost 42 p.c nationwide, and the variety of individuals dwelling with the illness roughly doubled, the CDC report discovered.
Parda needs a dialysis clinic would come to an space close to him, both by the Northern Gentle hospital system or a nationwide clinic. Most of the sufferers at DCI in Skowhegan journey an hour or longer and have come from locations similar to Jackman and Caratunk, nurse supervisor Lorna Vautour mentioned.
The clinic serves 43 hemodialysis sufferers and operates two shifts Monday by Saturday. It additionally has sufferers who do day by day at-home or peritoneal dialysis. Throughout its clinics in Belfast, Fairfield and Skowhegan, Vautour estimated 155-175 sufferers obtain hemodialysis, which is completed on the clinics.
DCI additionally contracts with MaineGeneral Well being in Augusta to supply dialysis on the hospital.
The Skowhegan clinic doesn’t have a waitlist, however it did final summer time, Vautour mentioned. DCI employed extra employees in September and October of final yr to create a 3rd shift, however it didn’t find yourself being essential as a result of sufferers both obtained in, acquired a transplant or died from their well being points, she mentioned.
Transportation is a barrier for a lot of sufferers. As a result of dialysis takes hours, their members of the family are usually not at all times out there to drop off and decide them up, she mentioned. DCI works primarily with Kennebec Valley Neighborhood Motion Program to rearrange journey.
Parda depends on Penquis’ Lynx Transportation Service to get to and from his dialysis. He may drive, however as a result of there’s a likelihood he might turn into dizzy after therapy, Parda doesn’t need to threat the protection of himself and others. Sometimes drivers are late or want to choose up one other particular person on the best way dwelling, which drags the method out additional, he mentioned.
The state ought to take a more in-depth have a look at enhancing entry to essential providers for its residents, notably veterans, Parda mentioned. In 1967-68, he served as a sergeant within the U.S. Military in Vietnam.
Extra choices must be in place for transportation, Vautour mentioned, as a result of not all of her sufferers qualify for KVCAP rides.
“The state wants to comprehend that dialysis isn’t an non-obligatory therapy,” she mentioned. “These individuals have an organ that failed, they usually may die from lacking one therapy.”