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3 new dialysis centers coming to suburbs; Dallas firm, local medical group to operate units in Cheektowaga, Amherst, Tonawanda

U.S. Renal Care has started construction on three new dialysis centers in the Buffalo area in a joint venture with a physicians group.

This will be the company's first presence in New York State, and comes at a time when most of the 13 free-standing and hospital-based dialysis facilities in Erie County routinely operate beyond maximum capacity, said Ryan A. Moore, senior vice president of U.S. Renal Care.

"We saw a particular need for dialysis stations," he said. "It was a tremendous opportunity to offer services."

The centers will be located in Cheektowaga, Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda, and will be run jointly with four of the eight partners in Nephrology Associates of Western New York, whose doctors have offices in Amherst and Orchard Park.

Each center will feature 13 dialysis stations with a capability to handle about 70 patients per week. The three centers will cost an estimated $4 million to build, be completed by the fall and employ more than 60 medical and administrative personnel, Moore said.

The locations were chosen based on geographic need for services and proximity to Nephrology Associates' patients, said Dr. Kristin A. Matteson of Nephrology Associates.

"It's harder and harder to get patients placed into the appropriate dialysis center because so many are full," she said. "We wanted to partner with a company that could bring dialysis closer to our patients and reduce their drive time."

Her partners are Drs. Heather M. Wheat, Aru Namassivaya and Maria C.V. DelCastillo.

There were 12 dialysis facilities with 220 stations in Erie County at the time of U.S. Renal Care's application to the state for a certificate of need to operate, Moore said. Nine of them were operating regularly above suggested capacity, he said.

Dialysis is used to remove toxic substances from the blood when the kidneys can't. More than 100,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with kidney failure, and diabetes is the most common cause, accounting for nearly 44 percent of new cases, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The market is growing globally with the rise in the number of end-stage renal disease patients, an aging population and increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

"Every year, we're seeing an increase in kidney disease driven by diabetes, other chronic diseases and people living longer," Matteson said.

By expanding capacity, she said, the centers also will result in quicker discharges of hospital patients in need of dialysis.

With the three new centers in New York, U.S. Renal Care will serve more than 6,000 patients at 116 centers in 13 states.

The privately held company was founded in 2000 in Jonesboro, Ark., and is now headquartered in Dallas. Last year, U.S. Renal Care completed a $110.25 million acquisition of Dialysis Corporation of America, helping the company transition from a regional to a national organization.

The other doctors in Nephrology Associates recently received contingent approval from the state to move a dialysis center in Millard Fillmore Hospital to a medical building in the Town of Tonawanda.

It will feature 18 stations, four more than it currently operates. The move of the WNY Dialysis Centers LLC facility comes in anticipation of the closing of the Kaleida Health hospital and the shift of most of its services to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

WNY Dialysis is a joint venture of four others at Nephrology Associates and Renal Patient Services, based in Chicago and Boulder, Colo. WNY Dialysis owns and operates two other centers in the region, Orchard Park Dialysis Center and Suburban Dialysis Center in Amherst.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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