Updated 12/4/13: The Mayo Clinic announced a new center that sounds like it’s in the same direction as Dialyspa. I’ve contacted them for more information. CLICK HERE to read their announcement.
A few months back, I was in Houston, Texas for a conference so I arranged to visit a recently completed Dialyspa center. (Yes, you read it correctly… it’s Dialysis and spa… Dialyspa). I wrote about them last year in “Dialysis and Dreaming” and I went into more detail in “Dialysis and More Dreams” Needless to say I was impressed by Dialyspa from the written materials and the photos but now I had a chance to see their center and meet their staff.
I was exhausted when I got out of the car in front of the Dialyspa facility. I had spent the day in a conference and was looking forward to getting home. But as soon as I walked through the doors to the facility I was invigorated. A very pleasant atmosphere greeted me. It was more like walking into a inviting business office rather than a dialysis center. The warm colors and attractive decor even included a fireplace, a chandelier and a guest’s workspace! On the wall next to the fireplace is a plaque with a picture of Neill Simon and a copy of “Neill’s Deal” (the guiding document for the organization.
Immediately to our right, however, was a coffee machine featureing Starbucks coffee and an ice machine that made ice according to the specifications of one of the Dialyspa founders Neill Simon; a dialysis patient. I was told that these were placed there so visitors could have a nice cup of coffee or tea and patients, especially, could partake of the crushed ice before and during their sessions. I asked, “How do the patients get the ice during their sessions?” and the answer came back immediately, “The staff will get it for them.” That was the first of many questions I had and all were answered eagerly.
The enthusiasm of the Dialyspa staff for their new center was palpable. Whatever lack of energy I might have had was eliminated by their joy at showing me their work. David Ramirez, the Vice President of Facilities and Development (far left of the group in the photo) led the tour. He was the major leader in the design on this center and, as we progressed, it was obvious he was intimate with every detail of this facility. Also shown in the photo are Kim Coachman Communications Manager, Bridget Turpeau-Gallien Administrative Manager, and Paul Garney, MS, RD, LD Vice President of Compliance.
The first feature was the very inviting receptionist office shown in the photo. What I appreciated was the natural light from the large windows, the indirect lighting on the floor and above the cabinets and the task lighting over the work areas. Everything was well lit without being annoying. Through the door next to the receptionist, we entered the treatment area.
My first concern was… the CHAIR. I had to try it out, of course. I noticed that, unlike the usual chair, this one was comfortable. David informed me that it had more padding than usual and the covering was softer and more pliant than the typical chair. He upgraded both padding and covering because, as he hardly had to explain to me, the patient spends considerable time in the char so it should be as comfortable as possible. Gee! Can you imagine that!?
I sat in the chair and it was very comfortable. Unlike the usual experience where I feel like I’m sitting IN the chair, this was a feeling of sitting ON the chair. I wasn’t swallowed by it but, rather, I was supported by it. As you can see in the picture, the chair has a nice, supportive back with a good pillow behind my head. With this chair, I wouldn’t have to bring a pillow with me! That would be nice. The chair also had very adequate side-tables. and the leg/foot rest was also very nice. All in all, the chair was just what David expected and designed; very comfortable
Sitting in the Dialyspa chair was a strange experience. I’m still not sure of it. I believe it was much more comfortable than any other chair I’ve sat in for dialysis but maybe that was my mind and not my butt making that determination. Perhaps I’ll go back to Dialyspa and investigate this some more or I might look for a time when I can sit in and compare a selection of chairs, like at a convention of something. If I can work it out, I’ll dialyze at DialySpa someday and write about the experience.
The tour included a visit to the water treatment room with some features that make it better than a typical system. In the picture, those two large tanks in the middle are optional. Dialyspa uses one more filtration step than is required. It means the water used in the dialyzer is of better quality than what Medicare requires. (Imagine that! Going above and beyond the Medicare requirements!?!)
David was also quite proud to show me the Water Sampling Station he added. In a typical room, the technician must go to several places in the room to get samples to be tested. So, David created a Sampling station as shown in the picture (on the right) that allowed all the sampling to be done in one place. Tubes carry the water to the station from the various locations. A cart with all the necessary supplies is next to the sink.
What’s remarkable, again, about this water filtering is the additional filter step show in the picture above. Those long white tubes in the center are one last filtration step. again not required by Medicare. They are pretty much the same as the dialyzer used in the machine for each patient. So, the water is as pure as it can possibly be.
These are just a few of the features of Dialyspa; an innovative, imaginative organization where the patient comes first. What a wonderful place and staff! Thanks, y’all for the tour and for making me feel so welcome!