JOHNNY FLORES, JR/Coachella Unincorporated
COACHELLA — When the Indio dialysis center closed for renovation, Maura Halos had two options. She could get her treatment in La Quinta or at a new facility in Coachella.
Halos decided to come to the recently opened Coachella Kidney Institute for the life-sustaining treatment she receives three times per week.
“First, it’s more closer to my home…and the personality of the staff here makes me more comfortable,” said Halos, during a recent dialysis treatment. “My family is also happy that I am going here and everyone has treated me and my family very well. Also, when they give me my paperwork they give it to me in English. My whole family speaks English, and I want to as well.”
With over 29 state of the art dialysis stations, the Coachella Kidney Institute aims to provide the Eastern Coachella Valley with better access to this procedure.
“Dialysis is a big need, because the availability of these kind of facilities were limited,” said Dr. J.E. Chandrashekar, administrator of the new facility. “When I came here 34 years ago, there was only one facility in Palm Springs…now there are 9 facilities. A lack of availability is one of the reasons why there are more facilities but also decline in health.”
The common service offered is hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is the process of cleaning out the “bad” blood through a machine and then reinserting the “clean” blood back into the body. The cleaning of the blood is a natural process done by the kidneys, however due to diabetes and kidney failure, the process must be done being done through mechanical means. The process takes between three and four hours and patients must complete this process three days a week with each treatment being every other day.
“Initially we had a clinic in Indio. We noticed there were a lot of people that had to come there from this way, and they had to drive a long way to come to our facility,” said medical director Dr. Naren Chandrashekar. “We are bringing the facility closer to them. This is hopefully a major step in getting health care over here as well.”
Prevention is Key for High-Risk Population
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mexican Americans are nearly twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes – and they also are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes. Hispanic adults are 1.7 times more likely than non- Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes.
In 2010, the National Diabetes Surveillance System surveyed 100 people and found that 9.3 percent of men and women of the Hispanic population carried the disease as opposed to 6.8 percent of white men and 5.4 percent of white women.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people can delay and/or prevent themselves from obtaining diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of their total body weight through 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and by eating healthier.
The California Health Interview Survey — conducted to support Building Healthy Communities (BHC), a 10-year plan of The California Endowment — shows an overall view of the health challenges facing the community. These include a lack of health coverage, childhood obesity, and environmental woes.
The goal of BHC is to help 14 communities develop into places where children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn.
“Eating healthy is expensive and difficult,” said Dr. Naren Chandrashekar. “This is a national problem, unfortunately it’s not just a problem in Coachella. It’s a problem the whole country faces. It’s definitely a problem that the city of Coachella and the country has to deal with it.”
In addition to hemodialysis, the Coachella Kidney Institute offers patients the training to complete peritoneal dialysis, a process done at home with regular check ups by a nephrologist.
“We all hope that this will bring care closer to the people that need,” said Dr. Naren Chandrashekar. “People that have kidney failure and have to come this facility for dialysis, they spend a large amount of their time traveling to the facility, spending their time getting their treatment and returning back home and if we can bring that facility closer to them so their commute time is less.
“They feel that they are more in their neighborhood and their backyard, then having to go to a distant location, we can provide for a more friendly environment.”
Over 30 patients, including Maura Halos, visit the facility every day in order to receive dialysis.
The facility is located at 1413 Sixth Street. It is open Monday through Saturday, as early as 5:30 a.m. Information: (760) 391-5300.