Portland dialysis patients suffering due to staffing shortages

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:29 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Some patients who need life-saving routine procedures are still feeling the impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry.

Navy veteran and Portland resident David Ball suffers from kidney failure, and recent staffing shortages at his dialysis clinic have had him fearing for his life at times.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ball says the Fresenius Medical Clinic where he is supposed to get dialysis for four hours three days a week has had staffing issues that have impacted his care.

Ball had his dialysis outsourced by the VA hospital to Fresenius medical care three-and-a-half years ago. But he says a few weeks ago he was told his typical dialysis treatment would be reduced because of staffing issues.

“For two-and-a-half weeks, I ran three-hour shifts and I got sick,” said Ball.

Ball says that reduction by just a few hours per week caused him to go to the hospital. He says he called upper management at Fresenius, and was able to get back to his four hours, three days a week sessions. But just this week on Tuesday, more delays came for Ball. He says he was suddenly told he wouldn’t be able to be seen until next week. His doctor has told him he could die if he goes more than 8 days without dialysis.

“I’m doing the math and going ‘how is that going to work out?’” says Ball. “That’s when I got scared.”

While Ball is concerned, he knows nurses who run dialysis on a daily basis are under huge pressure because of high demand.

“Dialysis is bad enough for what you have to go through and your limitations,” said Ball. “But to have that kind of atmosphere is just horrible.”

Ball says his doctor at the Portland VA was able to straighten out the dialysis delays with Fresenius, and he’s back on his regular treatment as of Wednesday, but the concern remains.

FOX 12 reached out to Fresenius Medical Care about staffing shortages at dialysis clinics and a spokesperson sent the following statement:

“Our clinic teams work hard every day to provide the highest quality care to those battling kidney disease. In the Portland region, we are taking extraordinary measures to bring additional employees from outside the area when necessary, arrange for treatments for patients at other clinics, while also aggressively hiring and training new local employees as we navigate our way through the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”