Waiting game continues: Little progress made in opening new dialysis clinics

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A major provider of dialysis services reports a bit of progress, but still largely a waiting game in getting their new clinics open in Kansas.

As 13 NEWS reported in August, DaVita applied to the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment in October 2015 for the initial survey of its new facility near SW 37th and Wanamaker in Topeka, and several months earlier for a new location in Emporia.

See our 13 NEWS investigation from August 2016 here.

The surveys are needed to gain certification from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) so it can accept Medicare patients, which make up the vast majority of dialysis patients. Many insurance companies also require the certification.

At the time, KDHE said delays were due to personnel turnover. Of the 8 surveyors on staff in August, 5 had come on since the first of the year. In addition, CMS operates on a tier system that puts new facility surveys at lowest-priority. Issues such as patient complaints and safety investigations, plus targeted surveys of at-risk sites must all be completed before they can move to the new facilities. The surveyors cover not just dialysis centers, but facilities like acute care, rural health, and hospice clinics.

When 13 NEWS investigated in August, DaVita was informed the locations likely would not be surveyed until at least September 2017. This week, DaVita told us KDHE completed the Emporia survey the week of September 26, but they are still waiting for a letter from from CMS so the clinic can accept patients.

It's not known how much longer it will take to receive the CMS letter. DaVita also had no update on whether the Wanamaker clinic might be surveyed before September 2017.

13 NEWS reached out to KDHE and CMS to see if they could provide any updates on the timeline, but they did not respond to emailed questions Tuesday.