By Geena Martinez
FORT STOCKTON - Imagine having to drive almost four hours just to get dialysis treatment. For many West Texans, it's a reality, but Pecos County Memorial Hospital in Fort Stockton is going to change all that.
The dialysis center at the hospital is about to get a little bit bigger.
County commissioners recently voted to start construction on expanding the current center.
"Someone driving from Presidio to Odessa, that's a four hour drive, four hours on the dialysis machine and then four hours home," Jim Horton said. "And that's three times a week."
For Rosie Quintella, traveling for treatment used to be part of her weekly routine. That was until the Pecos County Memorial Hospital started offering dialysis services.
"It just feels so good not to have to get up at 5:00 in the morning just to go to Odessa," Quintella said.
Rosie is just one of several patients using the dialysis center.
Now just one year after the services began, the folks at the hospital said it's time for an upgrade.
"It didn't take long and the clinic was full," Horton said. "We have 31 patients on service right now and its maxed out. We can't take any more."
Hospital CEO Jim Horton said the center is over crowded.
"We're just out of space, there aren't enough dialysis machines, and so it's really a good problem to have," he said. "We've just outgrown it."
Before they offered the service, for many patients, the closest dialysis treatment center was hundreds of miles away in Odessa.
"I've got my energy back, I don't have to travel as much," Quintella said.
But traveling is still the case for several patients on the waiting list. The center only has eight chairs.
"If a patient's on dialysis then the family is on dialysis," Horton said.
But now the hospital is trying to lighten that load for families.
"We're going to expand the clinic to 12 with the option of 16 chairs in the future if needed," Horton said.
More chairs, more space and even jobs will all come with the expansion.
The community is pitching in for this $400,000 project.
"As a group we're going to come together and take care of our dialysis patients," Horton said.
That's good news for patients like Rosie.
"It's helped me a lot," Quintella said. "It's great. A lot of people are thankful."
Horton said they plan on breaking ground in the next few weeks and they hope the expansion will be complete by the end of the year.