Agreement to open dialysis center waits ratification

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 28, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY-Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – A local services agreement now being finalized will open the door for St. Charles Parish Hospital to operate a chronic-care dialysis center, according to Parish President Albert Laque.

Laque announced the agreement during remarks by Dr. Raj Devarajan, who noted “an explosion” of dialysis patients during the past 24 years of his practice in St. Charles Parish.

Quoting Mother Theresa, Dr. Raj said, “We cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

At this point, Laque announced the pending agreement, to be brought to the Nov. 3 council meeting for ratification.

The action drew praise from Theresa Green of Boutte, whose husband is on dialysis. “We have a good hospital,” Green said. “We have good, compassionate doctors and nurses.”

“This has really restored my faith in politicians,” she observed, which generated spontaneous applause by the audience.

In order to open a temporary facility, including physical renovation to the current acute-care unit and adding rented equipment, will require $276,000 in start-up funds, according to hospital administrator Fred Martinez.

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.

Martinez announced his dilemma at the previous council meeting on Oct. 6 during a report on a feasibility study requested by the council, while not specifically asking for any financial assistance from the parish.

This amount, Martinez said, could carry 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 on Oct. 6, 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.

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.

“This is the kind of service we need in our parish,” Green said, whose husband has been a dialysis patient for the past several years.