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Northwell Health, DaVita HealthCare in dialysis venture

Gregory Williams, of Far Rockaway, with dialysis technician

Gregory Williams, of Far Rockaway, with dialysis technician Cheryl Bonzo at the Waldbaum Dialysis Center in Great Neck, It will become part of a venture between Northwell Health and DaVita HealthCare Partners. Photo Credit: Northwell Health / Adam Cooper

Northwell Health has formed a joint venture with a unit of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. to open dialysis centers and provide other treatment to kidney patients in Queens and Long Island, the health care providers announced Thursday.

The “ultimate goal” is to open 12 to 15 dialysis centers in Queens and Long Island subject to regulatory approval, according to Northwell Ventures Operations vice president Adam Boll.

Currently, Northwell, formerly known as North Shore-LIJ Health System, operates the Waldbaum Dialysis Center in Great Neck, which serves 210 patients, and the LIJ Medical Center in Queens Village, which serves 190.

The Waldbaum facility will be folded into the joint venture with Denver-based DaVita, while the unit in Queens Village will continue to be operated by Northwell.

The joint venture also will operate a dialysis center now under construction in Floral Park that officials said will be Nassau County’s first free-standing home dialysis center.

DaVita Kidney Care division vice president K. Danae Pauli said that the company is adding its Port Washington dialysis center to the joint venture in its first phase.

Northwell began considering partners in its dialysis operations about four years ago, said Jason Horowitz, Northwell Ventures managing director, strategic ventures.

There were 5,500 dialysis patients in Nassau and Suffolk counties as of the end of February based on data from the End Stage Renal Disease Network of New York, said Helen Danko, dialysis services director at Northwell Health Physician Partners.

The United States Renal Data System reported that the average annual cost of hemodialysis — in which wastes are removed from the blood — was $87,945 per patient in 2011. That compared to $71,630 for patients using peritoneal dialysis, in which wastes are filtered from fluids that flow into the abdomen through a catheter.

Before the agreement with Northwell, DaVita, a Fortune 500 company, operated eight outpatient dialysis centers on Long Island, Pauli said.

Dr. Steven Fishbane, chief of nephrology for Northwell, said the joint venture will seek to offer dialysis patients additional options by providing training that would allow them to do dialysis at home.

“About 8 percent of the people in the United States choose to do dialysis at home,” he said. Going to a center for three or four hours “basically eats up the whole day.”

The vast majority of Northwell patients use hemodialysis, Fishbane said, but the number of Northwell patients opting for peritoneal dialysis has more than doubled in two years, from 26 to 65. “It’s just a gentler treatment,” he said.

Great Neck-based Northwell, which has 61,000 employees, is New York State’s largest employer.

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