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HRRMC receives final Medicare approval for dialysis unit

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) granted the Salida Hospital District final approval today for a hospital-based renal dialysis center at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center.

The Heart of the Rockies Dialysis Center is located on thCharlie Terrill, 86, of Buena Vista was the first patient treated at Heart of the Rockies Dialysis Center.e second floor of the Salida hospital. The unit is owned by the medical center but managed by Sanderling Renal Services. Sanderling specializes in bringing high-quality dialysis and nephrology (kidney) services to rural communities.

End-stage renal disease facilities, also known as dialysis units, must meet specific safety and quality standards established by CMS in order to participate in the Medicare program. In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) conducts surveys of the state's dialysis units on behalf of CMS.

On Sept. 1, 2016, the Heart of the Rockies Dialysis Center passed the initial survey by CDPHE. At that point, the dialysis center was licensed to treat patients but not yet approved to participate in the Medicare program.

State surveyors review many policies and procedures during an initial survey. They tour the new facility to make sure the design of its physical layout considers infection control, safety, and emergency preparedness.

They also examine record keeping and policies and interview key personnel, including the unit's nurses, technicians, administrative staff and medical director. David Kanar, M.D., an internist and nephrologist on the hospital's medical staff, serves as medical director.

CDPHE completed a revisit to the initial health survey on Dec. 21 and a life safety code survey on Jan. 3. No deficiencies were cited. The effective date of participation in the Medicare program for the dialysis unit is retroactive to Jan. 3.

"The most recent community health needs assessment conducted by our hospital identified dialysis as the top service that residents wanted to see available locally," said hospital CEO Bob Morasko. "Local residents with end-stage kidney disease have been traveling to Canon City, Alamosa or the Front Range three days a week for dialysis treatment. This can be a real hardship, especially in bad weather. We are very pleased that we can now provide this service locally."

Charlie Terrill, 86, of Buena Vista was Dr. Kanar's first patient when he began practicing in Chaffee County in 2014 and was selected to be the first dialysis patient.

Diagnosed with end-stage renal disease five years ago, Terrill was traveling to Denver for treatment. "I've been hospitalized many times and had several surgeries. When you live so far from treatment, it's difficult," said Terrill. "After what I've been through, I was ecstatic learning we'd have a dialysis center here."

The Heart of the Rockies Dialysis Center is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (719) 530-2117.