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Need for kidney dialysis grows
Commissioners approve third Ceres dialysis center
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a new kidney dialysis on this barren spot eat of Mitchell Road to keep up with the growing problem of kidney malfunction. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Kidney disease is occurring in the area at such an increasing rate - mostly because of the rise in diabetes - that Ceres could use a third dialysis center. That was the assertion of officials of Satellite Health Care which on Monday won approval from the Ceres Planning Commission for a new dialysis center serving an estimated 60 to 72 patients per day.

Planners met Monday and considered an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to build a 10,750-square-foot medical office building at 1360-1388 Mitchell Road for Satellite Health Care. The building will be constructed on four parcels sized 1.12 acres wedged between an existing business park complex and the back of custom houses along Golf Links Road. Because it will be tucked behind existing buildings, the project will mostly not be visible from Mitchell Road.

City planners suggested they were concerned since Ceres has a dialysis center with another recently approved for DaVita Dialysis. However, the applicant has also provided a graph illustrating a trend of continued growth in the number of dialysis patients in Stanislaus County since 2007 to show that there is a need for this type of use.
Satellite Healthcare spokesman Frank Jesse said their facilities in Modesto and Turlock are operating at capacity with 135 patients in Ceres who require renal care.

Chronic kidney disease is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year, said Frank Hagaman, CEO and president of Built with Principle, Inc. Because of this rate, treatment times are being extended 30 to 60 minutes. The center would help patients find care after normal business hours to accommodate their schedules.

"Kidney dialysis is an epidemic going on right now," said Hagaman. "It's growing anywhere from 10 to 20 percent annually across the United States. The leading causes are diabetes and hypertension. Just in this area alone just north of you in Modesto, there's four facilities and a proposed fifth facility. Just south of here in Turlock there's also a proposed new facility. It's growing in this area very rapidly."

He told the commission that after seeing a federal government map pinpointing stage 3 and stage 4 patients "you'll possibly see another company or us back up here again for another additional location; it's growing that fast."

Dialysis will continue to grow as a need, he said, until an artificial kidney or a new technology is developed or "ultimately people start to take better care of themselves through diet and education."

The dialysis clinic is anticipated to operate with a maximum of 14 employees, Monday through Saturdays with three different shifts of patients per day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"Staff supports the project as it encourages both the development and reuse of underutilized parcels, as well as improves the balance of commercial businesses that already exist within Ceres," wrote Planner James Michaels to the commission. "Thus, staff has no objections to the applicant's request subject to the conditions of approval listed in the staff report."

Vehicle access to the site will be available from both Mitchell Road and Hatch Road by way of an existing reciprocal access and parking agreement of the Ceres Commerce Center. Access to the center will lead to the project parking lot area consisting of 69 parking spaces. The project, as designed, complies with the parking requirement as it exceeds it by 15 spaces.

The center expects 40 to 70 percent of its patients to arrive by courtesy shuttle or community buses.

Furthermore, the applicant has indicated that patients are scheduled to arrive and leave the facility at specified times (with an average volume of 60 patients per day disseminated over three work shifts), thereby allowing the next shift of patients to arrive such that there is no overlap and no queuing of patients occurring for the operation. City staff anticipates that an ample amount of parking spaces will be available to accommodate the proposed use and will not impact the existing businesses within the center.

Satellite Healthcare is a not-for-profit provider of dialysis and renal care nationwide, founded in 1974 by a Stanford University Hospital physician. The Ceres Dialysis Plaza is being proposed by Dr. Ronak Shah and Dr. Kalluri Kishore.

In March the commission approved a new 8,950-square-foot medical office building for a DaVita Dialysis clinic at 1424 E. Whitmore Avenue west of Highway 99.

Dialysis is the artificial process of eliminating waste (diffusion) and unwanted water (ultrafiltration) from the blood. Human kidneys do this naturally however some people may have failed or damaged kidneys which cannot carry out the function properly and may need dialysis.

Commissioner Gary DelNero commented that the new center seemed a "good fit" for the area and one that would strategically serve both Ceres and Modesto.