The new clinic is the first of its kind in Utah and the Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Services team hopes it will ease some of the stress and anxiety of advanced kidney failure by eliminating the additional hardship of traveling to Salt Lake for evaluations.
James Stinson, MD, Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray said, “We’re seeing an increase in the number of patient referrals from southern Utah. It’s the right time to reach out to those patients to minimize their travel. Many are already on regular dialysis for their conditions and it will be a lot easier on patients and their families to be seen closer to home," he said.
The clinic will see new patients who have been referred by a nephrologist as possible candidates for a kidney or a kidney/pancreas transplant; patients currently on the kidney transplant waiting list and who need to be seen once a year; and people who are healthy and considering becoming a living donor. All transplants will still take place at Intermountain Medical Center.
Initially, the clinic will be open four times a year but Dr. Stinson believes it won’t take long before the program expands its hours. “It’s a community that’s rapidly growing and we hope to be able to see patients from as far away as northeastern Nevada as well,” said Dr. Stinson. “It’s likely that in six to 12 months we’ll be going down monthly to see patients.”
Staff for the kidney transplant clinic will fly from Salt Lake to St. George. The team will include a transplant surgeon, a transplant physician, a transplant coordinator, a dietician, and a licensed clinical social worker from Intermountain Medical Center’s Transplant Services team.
Dr. Stinson said, “Dixie Regional Medical Center has been outstanding with which to to work. We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from their administrative team to get us going. We’re all very excited to be partnering to bring more services to patients and families in the southern part of the state," he said.
Patients are looking forward to having an option closer to home too. Ann Lake, 60, suffers from stage-4 kidney failure and currently receives daily dialysis treatments. As a resident of Enoch, located just outside Cedar City, Ann is one of the first patients who will be seen in the new clinic on April 26.
“I love my doctors and it’s closer,” she said. “We’re only 45 minutes from the hospital. I live with my daughter and she would have had to take the kids out of school to drive drive me to to Salt Lake. This way, we save money on gas and my granddaughter can stay in school.”