Provider Sees Dialysis as Senior Living Service Niche

As senior housing providers compete to establish their footprint in an evolving health care landscape, one nonprofit’s newest Hudson, Wis.-based community is carving out a niche as catering to a specific health care need: dialysis.

Woodland Hill —a new Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) independent, assisted living and memory care community — is collaborating with DaVita Dialysis to offer a medical suite for a clinic on campus that will offer 12 chronic dialysis stations and two home training rooms.

DaVita Dialysis is leasing the one-story building to be used for the clinic from PHS, and its services will be open to both senior living residents and the greater northern Wisconsin area. Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that removes waste and extra fluid from the blood, using a filter.

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The dialysis clinic is slated to open this spring, with the PHS senior living community to open shortly after. The community will serve the growing population of older adults in Hudson and the St. Croix Valley.

The collaboration also includes a third partner, Hudson Hospital & Clinic, which is  immediately west of and adjacent to Woodland Hill.

The right location

The new clinic will be the first to serve those in the Hudson area. Currently, many area residents requiring dialysis must travel over the border to Minneapolis to receive treatment, says Cari Dock, regional operations director with DaVita.

“DaVita had been looking at Wisconsin and talking to Hudson Hospital about strategically looking for a place to go, and they asked us to look at [the new PHS] campus,” she says. “Versus being in a strip mall or off campus, this made more sense.”

Twenty-six million American adults have kidney disease — and being age 60 or older is a major risk factor, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

“Baby Boomers are aging, and so we’re seeing a boost in need for dialysis,” she says, noting the leading causes of kidney failure are uncontrolled diabetes and blood pressure.

And like most people, those who live in Wisconsin prefer to stay in their community, she says, noting those with kidney failure on average require dialysis treatments three times a week, with each treatment lasting three to five hours.

The new clinic will also feature nocturnal dialysis, wherein patients can receive treatment at night while sleeping. Those appointments last five to eight hours.

In addition, having dialysis on site will make it make it easier for memory care patients who require such treatment to get to and from appointments.

“Moving them off site can be traumatizing,” she says.

Health-focused programming  

The three-way collaboration between PHS, Hudson Hospital & Clinic and DaVita will be supported by services such as transportation between the campuses, special nutrition and dietary support for dialysis patients and others, wellness education and more.

PHS began to recognize a need for dialysis on site after residents at other PHS communities began to ask for it, says Pamela Belz, project developer with Senior Housing Partners, a subsidiary of PHS.

Through it’s three-way collaboration with DaVita and the hospital, Woodland Hill will offer programming focused on kidney health.

“We’ll have special menus, wellness and fitness programs that will focus on kidney health and we will host classes about kidney care,” she says, adding that PHS has hired new marketing staff to communicate the kidney-health focus of Woodland Hill to prospects.

Currently, no plans for a dialysis clinic at other PHS sites are underway.

“We want to get this up and running,” Belz says. “We want it to be a well-tested model before we repeat it. We believe it will be successful.”

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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