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Rexburg’s only dialysis clinic is closing. Where will patients go now?

Yellowstone Dialysis | Courtesy of Yellowstone Dialysis Center
REXBURG — People in the Rexburg area will soon have to go to Idaho Falls if they need dialysis.
DaVita Kidney Care, the company that owns and operates Yellowstone Dialysis Center in Rexburg, will be closing the clinic on Oct. 27, along with a clinic in Idaho Falls, spokesperson Matthew Clyburn said.
Yellowstone Dialysis Center is the only dialysis clinic in Rexburg. In fact, it’s the only dialysis clinic serving the Upper Snake River Valley.
Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure. Blood goes through a machine called a dialyser, which removes waste and extra fluid from your blood before pumping it back into your body. This process usually takes around four hours, with a patient undergoing the treatment at least three days a week.
Donna Schlegelmilch of Rexburg says losing the clinic in Rexburg is a game-changer for her family.
It was easy to drive her mother’s husband, Ron, to his four-hour dialysis appointments when the clinic was just a couple of miles down the road, she said. Now, she or another family member must take him to Idaho Falls several times a week.
Although the family has pulled together and supported each other and their aging parents, it has been a hardship.
“We all have families and schedules, and the distance is just prohibitive,” she told “It isn’t that we don’t want to do it. We want to be here for him. We want to be helpful. It’s just for any one of us to do this is huge.”
A shortage of specialized kidney doctors, called nephrologists, is to blame for clinics closing in both Rexburg and Idaho Falls, a source familiar with kidney clinics said.
The source, who wished to remain anonymous, explained the situation this way:
When someone is diagnosed with kidney failure, they go to a nephrologist — much like a cancer patient would go to an oncologist. Because patients will need dialysis for the rest of their lives, many nephrologists stay with their patients for years. In fact, a nephrologist may end up serving as a kind of primary care physician because a kidney patient’s care needs are so complex.
“Unfortunately, the shortage of nephrologists means patients are increasingly losing their physicians,” the source explained. “(Clinics) have a fully-staffed, well-equipped facility and not enough physicians to oversee the care of those who need it.
Patients who used to got to DaVita clinics can seek treatment at Fresenius Medical Care clinics: Fresenius Kidney Care Snake River at 3195 South Fork Boulevard, Idaho Falls; Fresenius Kidney Care Idaho Falls at 2381 East Sunnyside Road; and Fresenius Kidney Care Pocatello at 333 Knudsen Boulevard, Chubbuck.
In a written statement, Fresenius Medical Care said the clinics in Idaho Falls and Pocatello can absorb the patients coming their way.
Clyburn said DaVita is “disappointed” it can no longer offer treatments in Rexburg and Idaho Falls.
“Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our patients, and our team has worked tirelessly to secure alternate treatment arrangements for each patient so they have continued access to the life-sustaining care they need,” he said.
Schlegelmilch is posting help-wanted ads, looking for someone who can drive Ron to and from his appointments.
“It’s just a lot,” she said.
The post Rexburg’s only dialysis clinic is closing. Where will patients go now? appeared first on East Idaho News.

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