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St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake Introduces Inpatient Dialysis

Kidney Care Clearlake, Calif.—St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake has launched a new service to better serve patients: inpatient hemodialysis service. The state-of-the-art therapy will allow more patients to stay at the 25-bed critical access hospital instead of being transported to other facilities outside of Lake County. 

“Introducing this new service is an incredible advancement in patient care,” said Colleen Assavapisitkul, RN, vice present of patient care and chief nursing officer. “We want to treat our patients as thoroughly and promptly as possible and allow those needing regular dialysis to have hospital procedures in a location that is convenient for them and their families. Inpatient dialysis allows us to do just that.” 

Hemodialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that uses a machine to filter the blood outside of the body. Dialysis becomes necessary when the kidneys no longer remove enough waste and fluid from the blood to keep the body healthy, usually when a patient only has 10 to 15 percent of kidney function remaining. In hemodialysis, blood is pumped out of the body to an artificial kidney machine, and returned to the body by tubes that connect the body to the machine. 

St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake launched the hemodialysis program for intensive care unit (ICU) patients after purchasing equipment and carefully training ICU staff. The NxStage System One dialysis unit is state-of-the-art and built for the ICU setting. Inside the unit, called a dialyzer, blood flows through thin fibers that filter out wastes, extra salt and extra fluid, and then returns to the body. 

The hospital’s inpatient dialysis service provides a number of benefits for Lake County residents. If hospital staff are concerned that a patient may experience kidney failure due to sepsis, they can act quickly to begin dialysis to clean the blood of the infection while treating the sepsis. Additionally, if a local resident currently requires regular dialysis, it is now possible for the hospital to serve them on an inpatient basis if they have other medical needs. Dr. Thomas Paukert, who specializes in nephrology (kidney care), will serve as the medical director for the service. 

“We feel investment in services like dialysis are part of our mission to deliver the quality care our patients deserve, right here in our community,” said David Santos, hospital president & CEO. “We are proud to launch this new service in the hospital, while continuing to offer preventive care and education to encourage wellness for a lifetime.” 

Patients on dialysis may need to make changes to diet, medications and liquid intake. St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake’s outpatient services, such as the Live Well Program, are designed to help patients with chronic conditions such as kidney disease to make these lifestyle changes to improve quality of life. Additionally, the organization focuses on wellness care and prevention in the hope of encouraging the community to embrace healthy lifestyle habits and to avoid the need for dialysis or other treatments. 

Patients interested in assistance with changing their lifestyle and improving their health can schedule their first assessment with the Live Well Program by calling (707)-995-4545.