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Ground to be broken for new dialysis center to serve Albion community

ALBION – Ground is expected be broken in late June for a new, 8,800-square-foot, 12-chair dialysis center to serve patients throughout the Albion region.

The new facility will be owned by the Oaklawn Dialysis Center of Albion LLC, a joint venture in which Oaklawn Hospital is the majority stakeholder.

The facility will be constructed on property at the Oaklawn Medical Group’s existing location at 300 B Drive North, and is expected to open in December. It will be known as Oaklawn Dialysis Center of Albion.

“This new facility will have a positive change in the lives of so many residents in Albion,” said Albion Mayor Joe Domingo. “A local site will give them greater access to quality care closer to home.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Oaklawn Hospital to the City of Albion,” said Albion City Manager Sheryl L. Mitchell. “Their business expansion will have a measurable impact locally on accessible health services and new job creation.”

“Albion Public Schools officials have been working constructively with Oaklawn to make this project a reality, as Oaklawn’s property lies directly north of the district’s athletic fields,” said Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper, the district’s superintendent. “Our goal is to assist this effort in any way we can, because of its importance to the community as a whole.”

“This is a major step forward to share and enhance medical services in the Albion community,” said Oaklawn Chief Support and Ancillary Services Officer Sharon Boyd. “It will underscore the partnership the Marshall and Albion communities have developed through our schools, community organizations and services.”

“Construction cost for the facility is expected to range from $2.5 million to $3 million, and will be managed by Albion’s own Gordon Martin Builders,” said Oaklawn Assistant Director of Plant Operations Joanna Tarkiewicz. “It will be constructed with a heavy use of local contractors.”

When fully operational, the new business entity will employ 10 to 12 new full and part-time personnel, and eventually may provide service for up to 16 dialysis patients at one time, Boyd said. Oaklawn Dialysis of Albion will also provide a Home Dialysis component that currently is not offered at the Oaklawn Dialysis Center in Marshall.

“Oaklawn Hospital and the Oaklawn Medical Group have a long-standing presence in Albion,” said Oaklawn’s Executive Director of Marketing and Development Mike Beck. “We’re very proud of our services provided by Albion Internal & Family Medicine, our laboratory draw station in the Ralph and Mary Cram Medical Center and our Physical Rehabilitation Facility as well as all of the services offered over the years by such physicians and staff as Sharon Boyce, Betsy Carroll-Crist, Raya Constantino, Martin Holmes and Thomas Reeves.

“With this new business venture in Albion, Oaklawn once again is demonstrating its commitment to the Albion community,” Beck said. “We believe this will turn out to be very convenient for our current Albion patients who now must travel to Marshall.”

In 2007, Oaklawn renovated and transformed a threatened historic building in downtown Marshall, which now operates as a dialysis center under the supervision of Fresenius Medical Care North America.

Fresenius awarded Oaklawn Dialysis with its UltraCare Platinum Center of Excellence Award in 2013 and 2014, after the Marshall facility scored in the top 13 percent of more than 2,600 such centers in North America.

The Marshall facility is operating at near capacity and the opening of the Oaklawn Dialysis Center of Albion should provide additional scheduling options for patients in the Marshall and Battle Creek areas, Oaklawn officials said. The Marshall center will continue to be solely owned and operated by Oaklawn as it is now.

“We intend to bring the expertise gained in Marshall to Albion through this new business venture, and we are excited to announce our association with this much needed service in Albion,” Boyd said.

“The hospital and nephrologists have always been extremely supportive of the dialysis program,” said Nancy Johnson, director of operations at Fresenius Medical Care West Michigan. “This new project will allow us to serve current and new patients in their own local communities.

“Fresenius has enjoyed a strong partnership with Oaklawn and looks forward to continuing with the excellent service provided to dialysis patients in Marshall and extending that service to the new Albion business,” Johnson said.

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment for people with end-stage renal failure, when about 85 to 90 percent of kidney function is lost. It simulates kidney function by removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate controlling blood pressure.

Dialysis can greatly improve quality of life and allow patients to feel better, have more energy, improve appetite, experience less nausea and reduce hospital stays.

“As always, Oaklawn is doing all it can to address the health needs of the communities we serve and by investing in a new company with other partners we are addressing those health needs through a business model that is new and different for us,” said Oaklawn President and CEO Ginger Williams.

“Having adequate access to care is one of the issues identified by the recent Calhoun County Community Health Needs Assessment,” Williams said. “Those needs are addressed by programs and services offered through Oaklawn Hospital and the Oaklawn Medical Group, in addition to primary health care and physician services.”

“This is very exciting news for the Albion Community,” said Calhoun County Public Health Department Health Officer James Rutherford. “We are pleased that Oaklawn has identified this need and is investing health resources within the Albion Community. We know that Albion is an underserved community when it comes to health-care options and this initiative certainly helps to address that need.”

Marshall-based Oaklawn strives to offer convenient access to care to residents of that city as well as other regional communities, Williams added. Oaklawn provides 27 percent of its services on sites beyond its main campus, including offices in Albion, Beadle Lake, Bellevue, Homer, Marshall, Olivet and Tekonsha.