Created: October 13, 2021 04:59 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For the last several weeks, News10NBC has been investigating massive staffing shortages across our local healthcare facilities. Now, there’s a new issue impacting low-income people who rely on dialysis.
For many years, the residents who live at the Monroe Community Hospital have been able to get dialysis services right inside the facility but Fresenius Dialysis, the company that handles that, recently notified them and the county that come next week, they’re going to have to find a new location.
Nichole Good has been on dialysis for the past four years. She normally gets it three times per week at the Monroe Community Hospital, where she lives. Last week, she and 18 other residents got a letter saying they’ll now need to go to another location. The only option Good could find was in Fairport.
“I won't get done until like 8:30 at night so, by the time I get back here I've missed dinner, I've missed my evening meds,” she told News10NBC.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello is furious.
“The company sites staffing issues for the closure yet will keep it stores open at more affluent locations elsewhere in the county. I'm calling out for Fresenius today because this type of disregard for our vulnerable citizens has gone unchecked in this community for far too long,” he said.
Those impacted by the decision are largely low-income and people of color.
“Transportation barriers were cited in our color of health report as a major contributor not just a health inequity but to poor mental and emotional health in our community,” said Wade Norwood, the CEO of Common Grounds Health.
The county is also concerned about the toll this will take on its already-stressed staff members too.
“With this decision, they will be the ones having to help transport residents elsewhere to receive dialysis care further stretching already thin resources across this community,” County Executive Bello said.
A spokesman for Fresenius Medical Care tells News10NBC they’re hoping this is only a temporary suspension of services and they basically just don’t have the staff to do it. Neither do any of the other companies the county was hoping might step in to fill the gap.
“Right now, we know that healthcare staffing community-wide is a challenge so, unfortunately, no other dialysis centers that were contacted had the ability to come in and take on this location,” explained Alyssa Tallo, the Executive Director of Monroe Community Hospital.
Full Statement of Brad Puffer, spokesperson for Fresenius Kidney Care:
“Our priority is to provide uninterrupted, high-quality care to our vulnerable patient population in our dialysis centers across the state. We are working closely with patients impacted by this temporary suspension of services to coordinate alternative treatment plans and ensure they have continued access to life-sustaining dialysis. Patients at nursing facilities across the region are routinely transported to our centers for dialysis treatment without issue, and we will treat this situation with the same care and attention. We hope to reopen our Monroe center as soon as we can safely staff and operate the facility in compliance with state vaccine mandates. All patients receiving treatment at the Monroe Community Hospital center now have appointments at other locations either in Rochester or Monroe County. We have also ensured that all patients have appropriate transportation. All other centers in the area are two or three times larger, and Monroe faces the most acute staffing challenges, which are the reasons we chose to close this center over others. We fully support the government’s efforts to increase vaccination rates across the country and firmly believe that vaccination of all willing and able healthcare workers is essential to successfully put an end to this global pandemic. As part of our commitment to preventing the spread of COVID-19 to our patients and employees, we are continuing aggressive efforts to educate our employees about all the benefits of vaccination.”
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