Thief River Falls To Boast New Kidney Dialysis Center
Notable benefits of having dialysis service in Thief River Falls will be reduction of "windshield time" per patient, as well as reduction in the costs associated with long drives to receive care. At best estimates, there are approximately 25 patients in and around the city of Thief River Falls, Minn., who receive dialysis services. All of these patients are traveling long distances, on average of three times per week, to and from Bemidji or Grand Forks, N.D. Decreased drive times lead to improved quality of life for patients receiving dialysis because treatments often leave them feeling very tired and worn out.
Improved access to nephrologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating adults with kidney disease) is another benefit of this long awaited service. MeritCare has four nephrologists (and are actively recruiting a fifth), and three nephrology physician assistants. These specialists have active outreach clinics in many locations, seeing patients in Fergus Falls, Minn., Oakes N.D., and Jamestown, N.D, as well as all of the forenamed dialysis units. MeritCare nephrologists will provide on-site outreach to patients in the new dialysis unit at Northwest Medical Center. The goal is that each patient will see a nephrology provider (physician or physician assistant) three-four times per month. The Nephrologists will also see patients who need medical care for related conditions at the MeritCare Thief River Falls Northwest Medical Center Clinic (formerly MeritCare Thief River Falls Southeast Clinic.)
The new dialysis unit will be located on the ground floor of the MeritCare Thief River Falls Northwest Medical Center. Aside from featuring comfortable surroundings and accessibility to all hospital amenities, the dialysis unit will eventually become a Medicare certified unit.
In the United States, over 90 percent of dialysis patients receive Medicare benefits, because all citizens who have chronic kidney disease qualify for Medicare benefits regardless of age or disability. In order for MeritCare Kidney Services to receive Medicare reimbursement for dialysis treatment given to patients, the processes and operation of the unit must meet the regulations set forth by the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS.)
For the new unit in Thief River Falls to become CMS certified, it must be in operation to receive certification from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MDH will do an unannounced survey to review the operations of the unit within one-three months of its opening to determine if it meets federal regulations. If MDH finds the unit in compliance, certification will be granted immediately. If MDH finds the unit out of compliance, the dialysis unit must change the process or the policy in order to become certified. The dialysis unit will not receive any reimbursement until achieving certification.
Since it will take time for CMS to approve the dialysis unit, the number of patients seen in the first 30-90 days in Thief River Falls will be dependent on the number of patients who have a primary payment source other than Medicare. All those patients who have insurance other than Medicare will be accepted immediately. If there are no private insurance patients, a limited number of Medicare patients will be accommodated while awaiting CMS certification.
If you, or someone you know in the Alvarado, Badger, Brooks, Donaldson, Erskine, Goodridge, Greenbush, Grygla, Holt, Karlstad, Middle River, Oklee, Pitt, Plummer, Red Lake Falls, Roosevelt, Roseau, Salol, Soloway, St. Hilaire, Stephen, Strandquist, Swift, Thief River Falls, Trail, Viking, Wannaska, Warren, Warroad or Williams area, who could benefit from, or is interested in dialyzing in the new unit at MeritCare MeritCare Thief River Falls Northwest Medical Center, please contact Maria Regnier, Dialysis Services Manager, (800) 437-4010, ext. 5267 by Feb. 15. Maria will be collecting your name and contact information, current dialysis unit, and insurance information.