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Stark County: Budget cuts end life-saving rides for dialysis patients

1:03 AM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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LOUISVILLE, Ohio -- Deborah Flowers sits outside her Stark County home, waiting for her ride to life-sustaining dialysis treatment.

"Oh, we love to get outside," Flowers said, enjoying the spring sunshine.

The retired horticulturist, with an appropriate last name, enjoyed her passion for plants, until 3 years ago, when she suffered kidney failure.

Then she received a shocking letter in the mail.

The non-profit agency that transports Flowers and nearly 20 other dialysis patients announced that the service was ending immediately due to federal sequester budget cuts.

"A total shock," said Flowers, "and the elderly patients I talked to broke into tears. They just can't fathom how they'll get to dialysis now."

The treatments are critical for renal patients, who need dialysis to cleanse the toxins from their blood in lieu of normal kidney function.

"It is life or death," said Flowers. "Even missing one or two treatment forces your body to start to shut down."

ABCD Community Development, Inc. says it's trying to find other funding sources to resume services, but needs help from politicians and the public.

"I don't think people understand the real impact of the sequester cuts," said Will Dent, CEO of the non-profit agency. "Like the air traffic control tower cuts, people thought, 'oh, we need to make an exception,' but for dialysis patients, the transportation means life or death."

Vince Hancock, a spokesman for DaVita Dialysis Centers, where Flowers receives her treatments, tells Channel 3 News that Medicaid rules prevent the company from directly arranging transportation for its patients. 

Hancock says the company, based in Colorado, will try to work with patients and Stark County Family Services to find other transportation options.

WKYC-TV

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