Sole dialysis center closing in Fannin County

BONHAM, Tex. (KXII) - The only dialysis center in Fannin County is closing at the end of May, so patients could have to go as far as Sherman for treatment.

They just found out a few weeks ago.

DaVita Kidney Care corporate said in a statement that the Bonham center is "financially unsustainable."

Patients are concerned since many go three days a week, four hours each time just to stay alive.

"We're like our own community and family there," said dialysis patient Jimmy Herpeche.

He's been going to DaVita Kidney Care in Bonham since he got sick.

Over a year and a half ago, his kidneys started failing.

"I never left home, a lot of days I never went outside because I couldn't," Herpeche said.

That's until he started dialysis treatment.

"In two to three months I was feeling great. Looking forward to going, if that makes sense," Herpeche said.

He said he made friends with the technicians and fellow patients, since he spends four to five hours there per treatment. So it hit him hard when he found out the facility was closing.

At the end of May, all current patients will have to find a new place to get dialysis. The closest center to Fannin County is in Sherman.

"The problem that got me started on this is the people who rely on public transportation," Herpeche said.

He used to take TAPS public transit, but now drives himself.

"It definitely will be a trying time for older folks and disabled people, anyone on dialysis, and have to go to Sherman or wherever they have to go to and spend a whole day doing it," said Fannin County Commissioner Dean Lackey.

Lackey said the round trip could be up to four hours travel time- around two hours there and back to pick up people along the way.

"A lot of these folks are in wheelchairs, on walkers and they just won't survive," Herpeche said.

At 56, he's one of the youngest patients.

He said several are veterans and some are more than 90 years old.

With this facility closing, he said some may have to move.

"Some of them are already talking that they'll quit going. And that's sad because if you quit dialysis, you've got about 10 days," Herpeche said.

In a statement, DaVita Kidney Care said, "Dialysis providers are underpaid for the care we give to 90 percent of patients, who are covered by government programs that fail to cover the actual cost of dialysis treatment."

They said the Bonham clinic didn't have a balance of government-funded and privately-paid patients to stay open.

Lackey plans to contact state and federal lawmakers to lobby to keep the Bonham location open.