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First dialysis patient at Eglin Hospital
Dr. Bhagwan Dass, the 96th Medical Group’s nephrologist, stands beside retired Lt. Col. Charles Wheelahan, the first patient to receive diaylsis treatment at Eglin Hospital. The nephrology specialty service was one of the new service lines added as part of the hospital renovations completed this past year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Crystal Turner)
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Eglin Hospital treats first dialysis patient

Posted 11/12/2013   Updated 11/12/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Sara Vidoni
Team Eglin Public Affairs


11/12/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When retired Lt. Col. Charles Wheelahan visited Dr. Bhagwan Dass, the 96th Medical Group's nephrologist, at Eglin Hospital on the morning of Oct. 28, they both knew something was wrong. Wheelahan was lethargic and short of breath, and according to Dass, it was clear he was not himself.

After further examination and a full diagnostic work-up, Dass and his team made the decision to put Wheelahan on a dialysis treatment. The next day, Wheelan was the first patient to receive such treatment at Eglin Hospital.

The nephrology specialty service was one of the new service lines added as part of the hospital renovations completed this year. With a nephrologist on staff and a team of nurses and technicians to support, dialysis officially became a reality for hospital patients in October.

"Dialysis is needed when the kidneys fail to function properly," said Dass. "Without dialysis in the past, some of our sickest patients had to be transferred to other hospitals for care. That is no longer the case; we are now able to provide comprehensive care, to all our patients as nearly all subspecialties are now available here at Eglin."

Adding this service was no easy task. According to Maj. Janelle Robertson, element leader for subspecialties in the 96th MDG, a dialysis program requires continuity of care that cannot always be afforded at a military base, so it was important the proper team be put in place. Upon establishing the team, it took an "all-hands on deck" approach to create a convincing proposal to the Air Force to fund and ultimately bring the dialysis service to Eglin's 92,000 beneficiaries.

"Adding dialysis was the obvious next step for us," said Robertson. "We wanted to increase the acuity of patients we see and part of that is stabilizing patients with declining renal function. Having this service now allows us to take care of the sickest patients."

Dass and his team of technicians and nurses are working to educate the Eglin community on the dialysis service now being offered and its importance at the hospital.

"It is vastly important for all the services at Eglin Hospital to work together, so we can provide the best care for our patients," said Dass. "Adding dialysis to our services fit right in hand with all the other capabilities we have within the hospital walls including cardiology, pulmonology, vascular surgery and more. All of these services are needed to make Eglin Hospital a center of excellence."

Currently, the new dialysis service is only being offered to patients admitted to the hospital. This includes providing treatments to hospitalized dialysis patients even if they are not admitted for kidney-related illnesses. The 96th MDG leadership hopes to grow the service to eventually provide treatments as an outpatient service for dialysis patients who need multiple treatments each week on a recurring basis but do not need to be hospitalized.

"The framework is in place to take care of all dialysis patients - both acute and chronic," said Robertson. "The new dialysis stations are equipped and ready to go once we have the final staffing in place."

While Wheelahan had prior poor kidney function, he had never before needed dialysis. Both Wheelahan and his wife were pleased to have the dialysis treatment at Eglin Hospital.

"The treatment went so well and everyone was so wonderful," said Marie Wheelahan. "The equipment looked fantastic and we were really impressed. Dr. Dass has done a beautiful job with Charles and we couldn't be happier with the service he provided."

Wheelahan hoped to be off the dialysis treatment by the end of the week and golfing again by next month.

"My 81st birthday and my 59th wedding anniversary are both in November," he explained. "Thanks to Dr. Dass I have more reason than ever to celebrate."



tabComments
11/24/2013 12:04:42 PM ET
Congratulations Dr Dass. A great step in serving mankind in distress.
Dr Bidyut Roy, India
 
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