By Garrett Estrada, Eureka Sentinel Staff Writer
The Sanderling Dialysis Center held its grand opening on Monday, bringing the life-sustaining treatment much closer to local patients than before. The facility, which took nearly 10 years to complete from its initial concept stage, provides state of the art equipment that is on par with other treatment centers.
For Ely native Keith Anderson, the hometown center means getting much of his life back from long, out of town road trips.
“This center opening means 1,200 miles I don’t have to drive each week,” Anderson said in reference to his trips out to the Elko facility three times a week.
Dialysis patient James Price said he only lives four blocks away from Ely’s new dialysis center, which means the time and energy he had to exert going to and from treatment now longer dominate his life.
Despite transitioning facilities, both Anderson and Price will still receive care from the same doctor who saw them in Elko, Dr. James Sullivan, D.O., who was on hand to check out the new facility in Ely at the grand opening. Sullivan with make monthly visits out to Ely from his office in Reno for a face-to-face check-in with the patients, as well as weekly “tele-medicine” online video chats to make sure everything is going well.
“When you are on dialysis, you are committed. These people need this treatment to stay alive,” Sullivan said. “So to have this new facility come together the way that it did is really impressive. It is a big deal.”
Anderson said he and other members of the community started calling for a local care center 10 years ago to help ease with the constant travel and to keep those who need treatment from moving away.
“I grew up in Ely watching people have to move because they needed to be closer to a treatment center,” he said. “People live in Ely for a reason. They love it here. I didn’t think it was right that they couldn’t live here just because they needed dialysis,” Anderson said.
Jan Jensen, the current CEO of the William Bee Ririe Hospital, agreed when she first took over the position four years ago. When she realized the hospital couldn’t afford to fund its creation on its own, she began to look for outside help.
“I reached out several years ago to several top companies, but they all looked at Ely and turned us down because they didn’t see the potential to make enough money,” Jensen said.
That’s when she reached out to Tom Frontera, a specialist with 15 years of dialysis treatment expertise. Frontera travelled around the country opening centers with the Sanderling Healthcare company. After the two exchanged emails, Frontera came to visit Ely, and the two made a successful pitch to Sanderling. Now the managing nurse of the Sanderling Dialysis Center, Frontera said he believes the company opened the facility due to the area’s need, not money.
“I firmly believe that this was a service to the community,” Frontera said.
Jensen said she was ecstatic that the center was finally open.
“There is a need here. It was horrific that our local patients had to travel the way they did to receive care before. We’ve even had some who moved away already get in contact with us that they plan on moving back now that they can get the treatment here in Ely,” she said.
Anderson said he was just happy that he could spend more time in the city that he loves with his family and not have to constantly worry about his next full day trip to Elko.
“This is not the kind of thing you can postpone. You had to go three times a week, whether you liked it or not. I thank the Lord that I don’t have to do that anymore,” he said.