BANGOR, Maine — The proposed sale of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s dialysis clinics to a for-profit corporation roused concerns Tuesday about the safety of patients seriously ill with kidney disease.
The hospital has signed a letter of intent with Colorado-based DaVita Inc., one of the country’s largest for-profit dialysis chains, to transfer ownership of its kidney dialysis clinics in Bangor, Ellsworth and Lincoln, as well as its home dialysis program. The deal also calls for DaVita to take over management of inpatient acute dialysis services at the hospital....
...At a sometimes heated public hearing on the sale at Spectacular Event Center, a nurse’s union and patient advocates spoke out against the deal, concerned that DaVita will put profits ahead of patients and highjack local doctors’ decisions about patient care.
Officials with DaVita and EMMC, as well as some dialysis nurses who contradicted the union, argued that the company beats EMMC on many quality measures and has the expertise to better manage the clinics.
No patients of EMMC’s dialysis clinics testified at the hearing.
“When you assign a dollar value to each dialysis patient, you start down a certain path,” said Carl Ginsburg, an attorney for the National Nurses United union who has represented DaVita patients in cases against the company. “How will you recoup that investment? That has been the central concern of DaVita management from its inception.”
DaVita officials said the company’s clinical outcomes are among the best in the industry, leading to fewer infections and lower mortality rates. The company serves about 142,000 patients nationwide....
Neither the company nor EMMC have disclosed a sale price. A document
submitted under the state review process states that the capital expense totals more than $10 million.
DaVita would purchase the clinics and EMMC’s home dialysis program under a subsidiary called Total Renal Care, Inc. It would assume management of the acute inpatient dialysis program at the hospital under a subsidiary called DVA Renal Healthcare and Patient Pathways....