Peterson assists TRF Hospital with dialysis unit

Oct 6, 2009 Issues: Health

(WASHINGTON, DC)— With a long list of dialysis patients in the Thief River Falls area waiting to receive care closer to home, Congressman Collin Peterson is pleased to announce that the Merit Care Dialysis Unit in Thief River Falls will be open soon.

“Access to health care providers and to treatments is imperative for people living in rural areas,” Peterson said. “We have to do everything we can to ensure that providers stay in places like Thief River Falls and that their patients are able to get life saving treatments closer to home.”

Because there are no dialysis treatment centers in the northwest corner of the State of Minnesota, patients needing dialysis as a result of kidney failure or end stage renal disease in this region typically have to travel to Fargo or Bemidji to seek life sustaining treatments.

Merit Care in Thief River Falls recognized a need and decided there were enough patients to justify opening up a six station dialysis unit closer to home. However, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) indicated that without an exception from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal certifying agency, MDH would be unwilling to do the surveys necessary for the unit to receive patients. The hospital was told that these types of surveys and certifications are a low priority for the State agency.

When Merit Care contacted Rep. Collin Peterson for help, he contacted CMS and secured the exception letter on August 13, 2009. With that exception, he was able to convince MDH to move Thief River Falls Hospital up on in its survey queue.

With surveys completed and no deficiencies found, it should be just a matter of days before all the paperwork is filed and patient records are transferred. There is already a waiting list of 19 patients.

“There is no question that the opening of this unit will have a big impact on the community,” Peterson said. “We need to ensure that everyone has access to treatments and care no matter where they live or what they can afford.”