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Wynhoven: New dialysis, memory units


Dialysis treatment is now being offered in-house to residents at Wynhoven Health Care Center, a ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

In addition, a memory-care unit for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and those who require a safe, secure environment is expected to open in February.

Wynhoven has spent the past year or so under renovation to add these important services in the community.


With sicker patients now entering nursing home care, there was a need for these additional health care services, said Art Callegari, RN, CRNA, vice president of development for Chateau de Notre Dame, Notre Dame Hospice and Wynhoven Healthcare Center, all archdiocesan health care ministries.

Callegari said he often would be asked about these resources while visiting the residents of the health care ministries who had been admitted to hospitals.

“Unfortunately, until now, we were unable to admit these patients,” he said of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Jane Fockler, administrator at Wynhoven, said much planning and research through the Alzheimer’s Association and other sources went into redesigning areas of Wynhoven to accommodate both a memory-care and dialysis unit.

“There are certain things you want to do and not do,” she said about the memory-care area. “You want a calm, quiet atmosphere, a routine and certain things they respond to, such as music and going outdoors.”

“And they receive therapies that help them thrive, and there is nursing care on sight,” Callegari added.

The memory-care area will have 10 private rooms, secured access and private areas for activities, dining and a new patio just for residents. Furniture also was changed to make it more comfortable for family members who visit.

It is small enough so that it’s manageable for both the specially trained staff and residents.

In-house dialysis
Having in-house dialysis at a nursing facility is the newest concept in dialysis. Wynhoven decided to incorporate it to ease the all-day experience its residents on dialysis previously endured – being transported to and from an outside dialysis facility for six hours of treatment three times a week.

“It posed challenges (such as sticking to a medication schedule) for our residents, some who were very ill,” Callegari.

The in-house dialysis unit, carved out of the former Living Center at Wynhoven, provides treatments five days a week in two-hour sessions or runs. This benefits patients because more frequent dialysis doesn’t allow their bodies to build up the toxins that cause high blood pressure that affects the kidneys.

Since in-house dialysis began in November at Wynhoven, Callegari said he’s seen patients’ health improve within two weeks after starting treatment.

“Treatment is scheduled around their normal activities,” Callegari said. “Not only do they feel better, but their fluid and dietary restrictions are lessened, their medication regime often gets lessened, and they never miss therapy, meals or medications or procedures here.”

Wynhoven worked with an outside contractor, Reliant Renal Care, to create the dialysis unit. Callegari had visited Reliant’s skilled nursing facilities with dialysis units in Louisiana and liked what he saw, knowing it was in the best interest of the patient.

Reliant staffs the unit with a registered nurse trained in dialysis. Dean Hegwood, RN, regional operations director of Reliant Renal Care, said at a typical dialysis center, the ratio of a nurse to patients is 12:1. At Wynhoven, that ratio is reduced to 6:1, and each resident is assigned his or her own NxStage dialysis machine.

Added benefits include Wynhoven’s staff being on hand to talk directly to the certified dialysis care technician. This provides a continuity of care, Callegari and Hegwood said. Dr. Shaminder Gupta, a nephrologist, is medical director of the unit.

“There’s more communication and awareness for the patient – the patient is going to benefit,” Hegwood said. “The patients are getting healthy. When you have a healthier, happier patient, that’s the end goal. If you get patients healthier, they can get back home and return to the life they had before going to nursing care.”

Using the new dialysis unit at Wynhoven is not required of Wynhoven residents needing dialysis, but Callegari said residents requiring the service all have elected to use the in-house therapy.

Callegari said he hopes the in-house dialysis unit will fill a need of a growing local population that needs both dialysis and short- or long-term nursing home care.

Wynhoven recently earned a “5 Star” rating from the Center for Medicare (cms.gov) and is included in the list of “Best Nursing Homes” in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.

Wynhoven is located at 1050 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero. For details, visit www.wynhoven.org or call 347-0777.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.

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