HCN News & Notes

Berkshire Health Systems Opens Renal Dialysis Center in North Adams

NORTH ADAMS — Berkshire Health Systems opened its new, $2.2 million Berkshire Medical Center North County Renal Dialysis Center this week. This is the first renal dialysis center in Northern Berkshire County, and is a life-saving outpatient-care program for more than 30 area residents who previously received this intensive and time-consuming treatment at the main BMC campus in Pittsfield.

“Dialysis care is critical for many in our community, and expanding this service to North Adams greatly benefits patients in North Berkshire and Southern Vermont who are in need of dialysis, and who can now receive this care closer to home,” said David Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems. “This important service is being provided for the first time in Northern Berkshire, and joins the many healthcare programs and services Berkshire Health Systems has expanded or restored to the North Adams region as we continue to meet the needs of our community.”

Renal dialysis is a medical procedure that removes harmful waste and fluids from the body and is necessary when a patient’s kidneys can no longer do so on their own. Many patients require dialysis three times a week, for hours at a time.

“For people whose lives literally revolve around dialysis, having their treatment much closer to where they live is another example of our commitment to offer essential outpatient services that were previously not available to the community,” said Diane Kelly, chief operating officer. “National trends indicate that the majority of dialysis centers are operated by for-profit companies at clinics that aren’t affiliated with hospitals. At BMC, we are committed to expanding renal care for our community.”

Among the patients who will benefit from having a renal dialysis program in North Berkshire are Ed Lewis and Charles Fuqua, both of Williamstown, who praised the convenience of the new unit and the benefit it will bring to their lives. They also expressed appreciation for the care they have received at BMC for their kidney disease.

“Dialysis isn’t nice, but the kind of care that I’ve received here — well, I’m alive because of them. They are such wonderful people. They taught me how to put up with dialysis and live with a terminal disease,” Fuqua said of the staff at the BMC Renal Dialysis Program. A Williams College professor emeritus, Fuqua has received dialysis three times a week for more than eight years. He has visited the new unit at the North Adams Campus of BMC and said he is impressed by the space and delighted that his travel time for treatment will be greatly reduced.

Lewis, who was also employed by Williams College until kidney disease made renal dialysis necessary four years ago, said he is “ecstatic” about the new unit and expressed gratitude for the program’s expansion to North Adams. He has been receiving dialysis during the evening shift at BMC, which has compromised the time he can spend with his family.

“The care I have received has been excellent,” he said. “People who need renal dialysis for years bring a range of emotions with them. In the four years that I’ve been receiving treatment, I have never seen anything but positive, compassionate care. The renal staff at BMC have helped us to carry on with as normal a life as possible, and I know that will continue in North Adams.”

BMC North County Dialysis Center is located at the North Adams Campus of Berkshire Medical Center, in the old doctor’s building of the former North Adams Regional Hospital. It will provide dialysis services Monday through Saturday in morning and afternoon shifts. The new center can be accessed through the main entryway to the Ambulatory Care Center.

The Nephrology physician practice office, located previously in the Ambulatory Care Center, will relocate to the Dialysis Center and continue to provide consults for patients with kidney disease, and will hold follow-up visits for dialysis patients. The BMC North County Dialysis Center joins two other such centers in the area operated by BMC, providing comprehensive renal care in Great Barrington and Pittsfield as well.

“For the many patients we serve who reside in Northern Berkshire, this is an important improvement in our care and meets a great community need,” said Dr. David Henner, Medical Director of the BMC Dialysis Centers. “Dialysis patients require a consistent level of weekly care, which can be very time consuming, but life-saving. The survival rate for our patients is significantly higher than the national average, and we are committed to providing nothing but the best care possible for our North Berkshire patients at this new center.”

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