A total of 103 patients are now being treated at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s new hemodialysis center.
Unit manager Karlo Reyes described the patient number in the last several months as steady. He said the hemodialysis center took care of 102 patients in July last year.
He believes, however, that more people are being diagnosed and seek treatment outside of the facility.
There are two hemodialysis facilities on island: one at the Commonwealth Health Center and at the St. Jude dialysis center at Saipan Health Clinic, a private organization. St. Jude Renal clinic staff refused to disclose yesterday the number of their patients but based on the data of the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services, it had 52 patients in July last year.
Within a 10-year period, from 2001 through 2011, the number of hemodialysis patients on the islands doubled from 80 to 159.
According to Reyes, 15 percent of the current dialysis patients at the Commonwealth Health Center are non-U.S. citizens who have no insurance coverage. Although a few of them have payment terms with the hospital, he said many are subsidized by the public hospital, which cannot turn away patients.
Healthcare corporation officials earlier disclosed that the hospital spends from $1.2 million to $1.5 million a year to treat these non-insured dialysis patients, excluding their medicines.
Reyes said that more and more patients are being diagnosed with chronic kidney conditions based on number of emergency cases at the hospital. An undiagnosed kidney failure usually leads to emergency treatment.
The hospital’s hemodialysis center opened in September last year. Since its opening, Reyes noted a positive change in their work environment.
“We have bigger patient care area now and we are able to accommodate more patients at the facility,” he said.
The new dialysis center has 27 dialysis stations and 25 staffers. Reyes described the staffing pattern at the unit as within the ratio required by federal standards.