Dialysis unit costly plan for hospital

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 13, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY-Staff Reporter

LULING – Adding a chronic-care dialysis unit to St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling could be an expensive proposition but not beyond possibility, said hospital administrator Fred Martinez, as he reported to the St. Charles Parish Council Monday.

On June 30, the private chronic dialysis center located near the hospital closed, and patients had to seek treatment elsewhere. The hospital proposed expanding its current acute-care dialysis unit to accommodate local chronic patients. The Parish Council asked for a feasibility study.

In making his report, Martinez proposed a temporary eight-station unit to be appended to the present unit until a larger, permanent unit could be built for 12-15 patients.

However, in order to open the temporary facility, which involves some physical renovation to the current unit and adding rented equipment, would require $276,000 in start-up funds. This amount, Martinez said, could tide the hospital through the four-month licensing and accreditation procedures through the state Department of Health and Hospital and with Medicare.

By that time, Martinez said, he projected the current cash flow from hospital accounts would be sufficient for ongoing operation of the center. Revenue from the center alone is estimated at $218,000 per year, making it self-sufficient, while meeting a vital community need.

The hospital, though, does not have sufficient funds for the start-up.

Several council members declared their willingness to extend the funds or help in any way possible, including Dee Abadie and Brian Fabre.

Council chairman Lance Marino asked Parish President Albert Laque’s administration, especially Finance Director Lorrie Toups, to review options where the parish could extend direct and more immediate assistance.

Meanwhile, local patients have had to move their treatments to St. Rose or into Kenner, creating an added burden on them.

At present, Martinez is set to meeting with bonding attorney Jerry Osborne to discuss loan options.