Fort Smith Regional Dialysis Center to open new facility in Van Buren

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
New dialysis center in Van Buren. The Fort Smith Regional Dialysis center plans to be officially open by mid-2021

Construction is almost complete on the newest location for Fort Smith Regional Dialysis Center, in Van Buren.

The center, at 256 Northridge Dr., will be the third owned by the regional dialysis company, joining offices in Fort Smith and Poteau, Oklahoma.

Laura Palmer, executive director of the Fort Smith Regional Dialysis Center, says that they have been wanting to expand to Van Buren for the better part of ten years.

"We have seen, in the last several years, that there is a need for the facility in that area," Palmer said. "We have quite a few patients who were closer to Van Buren than they were to Fort Smith." 

The Van Buren location will have 26 stations for patients, less than half the size of the Fort Smith location, which at 55 stations, is the largest dialysis center in the state.

According to Dr. Simon Bala, deputy chief medical officer at the Arkansas Department of Health, nearly half a million Arkansans have some form of kidney disease. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked Arkansas fourth in kidney disease mortality.

"Unfortunately, in any given year, close to 4,500 to 5,000 Arkansas have endstage renal disease," Bala said.

Endstage renal disease is when chronic kidney disease reaches a point where the organs no longer function, requiring the patient to have dialysis.

Arkansas is also first in heart attacks in the nation, fourth in heart disease, and fifth in diabetes according to the CDC. Bala says that all of these conditions can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis.

Construction of the new facility should be finished within the next few weeks. Palmer hopes the clinic will be able to start serving patients in mid-2021. 

The building will have a curved glass wall across the back of the facility and terrazzo flooring that sets it apart from other dialysis centers. 

"It's not your ordinary dialysis center by any means," Palmer said. "Dialysis centers tend to be pretty cookie-cutter, but we have a beautiful building."