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MCH will no longer offer on-site dialysis treatment; company cites staffing issues

Racquel Stephen

In less than a week, Monroe Community Hospital will stop offering on-site dialysis treatment to its residents, according to county officials. 

Fresenius Medical Care, a health care company based in Germany, is contracted by the county to provide the treatment to 19 residents of the county-run nursing home, along with a handful of outpatients. 

The company said it decided to stop providing service at MCH because it currently doesn’t have enough staff.

In a statement, Fresenius spokesperson Brad Puffer said the withdrawal is temporary. “We hope to reopen our Monroe center as soon as we can safely staff and operate the facility in compliance with state vaccine mandates,” Puffer said.

Puffer said all dialysis patients at MCH already have appointments scheduled at one of its other local sites, and transportation will be provided.

But County Executive Adam Bello said the company’s decision actually shows bias.

“We have people who are living at Monroe Community Hospital right now who are being targeted because they're poor,” Bello said. “We should be outraged.”

Resident Nicole Goode has been receiving on-site dialysis treatment for four years. She said the change leaves her feeling abandoned.

“I'm so upset with Fresenius because I feel like they just don't care,” Goode said. 

She’s also concerned that traveling to another location in the suburbs could present its own set of challenges in bad weather.

“What happens if there's a storm if we get there late?” Goode asked. “I don't want to come three days -- what makes you think I want to come a fourth day?”

Like Bello, Common Ground Health Wade Norwood believes the company’s withdrawal affirms the racial disparities within the health care system.

“Specialty care like dialysis has to be available for all, not just those who live in highly resourced communities,” Norwood said.

In his statement, Puffer said MCH faces the most severe staffing challenges, which is why Fresenius chose to withdraw from that location rather than one of their suburban sites.

Bello is urging Fresenius to rethink its decision, and work towards a better solution.

“People here have immense medical needs, and they have very few options, and we need your help,” Bello said.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.