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Tour new dialysis unit Thursday in DL

The transformation at the former County Market building is complete: St. Mary's Regional Health Center's North Campus will soon be open, bringing a much more spacious dialysis unit with it.

While the projected opening date is July 17, the building will be open to the public Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an open house. People can take a walk through the newly remodeled facility and visit with workers about to move into the building as well.

"So many people are curious as to what's going on," said LeAnn Mouw, director of development and community relations for St. Mary's. With the building closed and the street being torn up for quite some time, this is the perfect time to put that curiosity to rest.

Located in St. Mary's, the dialysis unit is a collaboration between St. Mary's and MeritCare. It will increase in size from eight stations to 12.

"This is a marked improvement for patients and families," Mouw said.

Not only are there more stations, but the building location is convenient, as well. The dialysis unit is now on the ground level, so no elevators. Plus there is plenty of parking close at hand.

Dialysis Services Manager Maria Regnier said it's not just the regular, local patients that will benefit from the new facility.

With summertime here, there are 20-30 more patients that have traveled from out of town wanting to use the services. There are about 53 local patients as well.

Currently, dialysis treatments are being run until 11:30 p.m. to accommodate patients.

Each station at the new facility is self-contained. Each comes with a television for the patient, and a cupboard for nurses to have everything they need to treat each individual patient. Regnier said it will be more of a one-on-one feel.

When coming into the dialysis area, patients will now be able to weigh themselves on a scale that is level with the floor. They will also be able to serve themselves with beverages.

"It's kind of like it's their place," Regnier said.

She said officials visited several different dialysis facilities to come up with a combination of the best design for the Detroit Lakes location.

On a much larger and more efficient scale, the new facility has a state-of-the-art water purification system.

There is also an isolation room that can be used to treat patients that have hepatitis B, tuberculosis, etc. Now, nurses have to refer those patients to other facilities that can accommodate them.

Home Health offices have also moved from St. Mary's third floor to the North Campus.

One of the more noticeable, asked-about features is -- the tunnel.

Mouw said the shaft had to be constructed before the dialysis unit could be completed, but there is no tunnel in place yet, and St. Mary's has no timeline for finishing it.

With all the changes, not only is it exciting for patients to have a new facility, it's also an upper for the 19 dialysis workers.

"It's really exciting," Regnier said. "We have had to send people to Bemidji (because of lack of space). That's a long drive three times a week. Now, we can treat them."