ALTOONA — UPMC Altoona opened its Kidney Transplant Clinic June 10 at its Outpatient Center in Station Medical Center.
The clinic saves time and money for the nearly 200 people from this region who are waiting for, or who have had, a transplant. It is easily accessible from Interstate 99; has the testing services transplant patients require, and offers reserved parking.
“This clinic brings specialized care closer to home,” says Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president. “It’s a tangible example of what our relationship with UPMC means to this region, and many more advances will follow.”
Ideally, patients will be evaluated in Altoona before and after surgery, but have the actual transplant in Pittsburgh. The clinic sees kidney and pancreas transplant patients, evaluates potential live donor kidney patients, and plans to add liver patients in the fall.
The clinic sees patients from as far as St. Marys in Elk County and Central City in Somerset County.
Transplant patient Gloria Bosh, 72, of Duncansville loves the convenience.
“I’m only 10 miles away, so the traffic is no big deal,” she says. “We no longer have to leave at 5 in the morning to go 95 miles. When you hit all that traffic, it’s nerve wracking.”
Dale Barnes, 59, of Duncansville also loves the advantages.
“The clinic saves me from making a trip to Pittsburgh,” he says. “I can get evaluated here. It’s a relief for me. I don’t have to travel too far.”
The clinic answers a community need, says Deb Maurer, transplant program administrator at UPMC.
“The area has a high number of people awaiting transplant,” she says. “By having the clinic in the Altoona community, patients who may have been hesitant to explore transplantation in the past may now be interested in learning about the procedure because the only time they have to come to Pittsburgh is for the surgery. It improves access.”
The transplant team consists of six surgeons, six nephrologists (physicians who specialize in kidney disorders), a patient care technician, a nurse coordinator and a social worker. Staff members take turns coming to Altoona.
Amit Tevar, M.D., surgical director, UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation, says, “We’re pleased to be able to offer these pre- and post-op services to patients close to home. We realize it’s often a hardship for people to have to travel to see us in Pittsburgh and having this clinic in Altoona not only reduces that burden but also eases their fears and worries about the entire transplant process. It is truly a move that puts patients first.”
“UPMC Altoona embraced this,” Maurer says. “Station Medical Center is an ideal ambulatory site at which to take care of patients. It has everything we need. It’s absolutely so convenient.”
At the clinics, patients receive education about the transplant process and are scheduled for testing. UPMC Altoona at Station Medical Center offers what they need, including CT scans, bloodwork, and echocardiograms. They then visit with different members of the transplant team for evaluation.
A staff member escorts patients through each step in their evaluation.