California looking to pass tighter regulations for dialysis centers

It’s one of the healthcare industry’s fastest growing sectors, and the state of California is trying to put tighter regulations.

Dialysis centers, where patients have their blood removed, cleaned and put back into them, within 3 hours. And it is a delicate medical job dominated by Filipinos.

Patients come in and out, and technicians and nurses operate on a limited timeframe.

“They make it like 4 [patients] is to 1, sometime 5 or 6 is to 1, minsan paano mo attend last kung, binibigyan ka lang 15 minutes interval, maliit lang run hours in a allow nila so pat may problem sa pasyente mo… or sa chair number ma dagga ng pressure then chair #2 dumodugo bleeding, and you attend,” said technician Vicky Santos.

This fast pace environment has been blamed for many incidents, and even deaths.

As the population ages, the need for dialysis centers are growing.

It’s a concern for Filipinos like Butch Lubag.

With family members already on dialysis, he’s already showing slight symptoms of kidney disease.

“It scares me right now being a prospective dialysis patient seeing the industry of the dialysis being like this, my father in law works in a dialysis center as a janitor at night, and he would hear a lot of horror stories, needle pricks, accidents because they were rushing to go to patients,” said Lubag.

Senate Bill 349 — which is making its way through the California state Senate — seeks to limit patient to technician ratios…increase cleaning time…and extend time between patients…allowing workers to tend to them longer after the treatment.

The SEIU has been pushing for the legislation, which was approved by the state’s Senate judiciary committee, and is expected be heard in the coming days.

“It will absolutely make sure for that patient that is going through a crisis in the middle of that 3-4 hour treatment that there are enough eyes ears and hands to address those situations before they become unnecessary deaths,” said Cass Gualvez, organizing director SEIU-UHW.

The California dialysis council has criticized the bill, saying, facility operations are already tightly regulated. It would harm patients by reducing access especially for those on MediCal.

Other medical groups have also opposed the bill.

The Renal Physicians Association claims there’s no evidence — the measures have led to increased patient safety in places where regulations already exist.

Currently in California, dialysis is not a unionized industry but with support from the SEIU, workers are hoping that as this bill advances, they can eventually organize and unionize to give them a stronger voice in this industry for both care takers and patients.

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