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Congressman Robert Hurt stopped by Fresenius Blueridge Dialysis last week on a tour of businesses in the 5th Congressional District. The visit took place on Wednesday as the area was recovering from power outages due to the massive derecho that struck the area the previous Friday.
According to Stephany Dietrich, who heads the dialysis center, Blueridge Dialysis did not lose power, but it also has a generator.
“We are a dialysis facility,” she explained.
Dietrich said that the center has 71 patients who must be treated three times a week and can’t delay a dialysis visit. This is because they have less than 15 percent kidney function. This means that their kidneys are not removing water or waste products from their bodies.
Dialysis, Dietrich explained, filters a patient’s blood, balances their body’s fluid load and maintains the blood’s proper pH. Patients also receive a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells, something that their kidneys would normally do if they were still working.
According to Dietrich, people on dialysis are limited to 32 ounces of fluid per day. This can be difficult as the amount of liquid in their food has to be accounted for. Dietrich said that people who have lost all kidney function no longer urinate and sweating is the only way they lose liquid.
Dietrich said that Blue Ridge Dialysis gets $234 per treatment from Medicare. This, she said, barely covers the treatment’s cost.