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Northwest Kidney Centers to open dialysis center in Enumclaw

Northwest Kidney Centers, which provides 80 percent of all dialysis treatments in King County, is making plans for an Enumclaw clinic.

The 50-year-old, nonprofit operation has reportedly entered into a lease agreement to occupy the long-vacant Forest Service building on state Route 410.

Linda Sellers, public relations manager for Northwest Kidney Centers, said it will probably be a year before the Enumclaw facility is ready to treat patients. NKC has already cleared an important hurdle with the state of Washington – it had to file a "certificate of need" and gain approval – and will also need approval from the city of Enumclaw.

The Enumclaw NKC facility, Sellers said, is licensed for five stations.

Those receiving dialysis treatments must visit a center three times a week, spending four hours each time. Dialysis is required for those with chronic kidney failure, meaning the kidneys no longer filter the impurities from the bloodstream. When a patient is connected intravenously, blood is circulated from the body and through the dialysis machine, the performs a blood-cleaning process.

"Patients can live only a week or two if the kidneys are not removing impurities from the body," Sellers said. Once treatments begin, she added, it's a lifetime process, unless the patient successfully receives a transplant

Presently, those in need of dialysis must travel at least to Auburn, the closest Northwest Kidney Center clinic. St. Elizabeth Hospital, part of the Franciscan Health System, does not have a dialysis unit. Franciscan has dialysis facilities in Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

The Enumclaw clinic will be the 15th for the Seattle-based NKC, which has an employee roster of 550 and delivers more than 200,000 dialysis treatments a year.

There is apparently a growing demand for dialysis services. Sellers said the number of American adults suffering kidney disease has grown 30 percent during the past decade.

"One in seven adults has some level of kidney disease and most don't know it," she said.

Diabetes and hypertension are contributing factors toward kidney disease, and both those conditions continue to show growth.

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