Wesley, Kansas City hospital partner to establish kidney transplant clinic

Wesley Medical Center said Monday it is partnering with Research Medical Center in Kansas City to establish a kidney transplant clinic in the Health Strategies building at 551 N. Hillside – marking the second Kansas City hospital to open a transplant clinic in Wichita.

The Research Medical clinic is expected to open sometime in December, though Wesley spokesman Nick Adams said Monday that an exact date has yet to be determined.

Adams said both hospitals, which are owned by HCA Inc., think there is a “community need” for the clinic.

“We think so,” Adams said. “And a clinic like this is scalable: We can increase or decrease the amount of (physician) time spent in the clinic based on the volume. We’ve got space and we’ve got infrastructure, and we can have those physicians here as much as needed, kind of a lower-risk business venture.”

In late August, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Mo., opened a kidney transplant clinic at 1035 N. Emporia, hiring seven employees from the former kidney transplant program at Via Christi.

Dennis Ross, a nephrologist with Kansas Nephrology Physicians in Wichita who has been practicing for 36 years, said the establishment of another kidney clinic offers more options for patients needing transplants. “They have choice, now,” he said.

He said he didn’t know if there was enough volume here to support more than one kidney transplant clinic.

“That’s the only question,” Ross said. “They obviously think the program will help get them more patients.”

According to information from the hospitals’ websites, Research has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants and Saint Luke’s has performed more than 1,400.

Saint Luke’s said in a statement e-mailed to The Eagle that since opening its Wichita clinic it has evaluated more than 150 patients, and that one patient from the Wichita area has received a kidney transplant.

“We believe it is part of our mission to serve patients in the communities where they live with life-saving treatment,” the statement said. “We view our partnership with the Wichita community as a privilege, and look forward to being there for many years to come.”

Via Christi started its kidney transplant program in 1981 and had performed more than 1,100 transplants. It suspended transplants in May 2012 after four patients who had received transplants in the previous 12 months died within a three-week period and another suffered kidney failure but lived. Hospital officials said an investigation of the deaths showed no common threads. Via Christi said earlier this year it was ending plans to restart a full transplant program and instead focus its resources on population health, prevention and other earlier interventions for patients.

At the Wesley clinic, transplant surgeon Daniel Murillo, Research Medical Center’s Transplant Institute medical director, and transplant nephrologist Pranav Dalal will see patients at the clinic. Marilee Clites, Research Medical Center transplant director, will oversee the clinic’s operations.

Transplants will be performed at Research Medical Center.

Adams said that renovations are underway on the space that will house the clinic and officials will have a better idea for an opening date in the next few weeks.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.