Doobay Medical Centre needs greater support to subsidise cost for dialysis
By Vishani Ragobeer
Dialysis is a costly but life-sustaining procedure that allows waste to be removed from the body via a machine when an individual’s kidneys cannot perform this function. Yet, for many patients with kidney failure, it is a financial burden.
Locally, it costs about $12,000 to undergo one session of dialysis and patients usually have to undergo dialysis at least two times a week. That incurs a cost of $24,000 a week or about $96,000 a month.
At the Doobay Medical Centre at Annandale on the East Coast of Demerara, however, some patients are able to access this service at a reduced cost.
Founder and Head of the facility, Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay told the News Room that during a visit to Guyana about 11 years ago, he discovered that patients diagnosed with kidney failure were forced to pay about $36,000 per session in order to receive the dialysis they need.
“…I asked the dialysis provider, ‘What happens when the money is finished?’ and he said, ‘When the people’s money is finished, they just go home and they die’.
“That prompted me that maybe I should try to do something for people who really need dialysis and cannot afford it,” Dr. Doobay said during a virtual interview with the News Room on Wednesday.
Then, Dr. Doobay, a cardiologist and vascular surgeon by profession, converted his father’s house into a medical centre and started to provide dialysis at a lower cost. The centre started out with only six patients.
Since then, however, the number of patients who receive treatment at this facility has increased to 100. And, according to Dr. Doobay, many of the patients are able to access the dialysis at significantly reduced costs and some even at no cost at all.
“… quite a lot of them come without any money and we never refuse them dialysis,” he highlighted.
One patient, Colvin Luthers, has been receiving dialysis treatment for almost five years. For more than three years, he has been visiting the medical centre at Annandale.
As he received his dialysis on Wednesday morning at this centre, he told the News Room that he previously received treatment at a private hospital but the cost was exorbitant and unsustainable.
“Upon investigation, I found that Doobay had the most reasonable prices and apart from that, they have other benefits such as labs- which in any other centre you have to pay for – and also you have different doctors pertaining to different things for dialysis patients,” Luthers said.
As such, Luthers, like many other patients, opted to receive their treatment at the Doobay medical centre.
The provision of dialysis services by this medical centre has been supported over the years by generous donors, locally and abroad. It is this support that has allowed the centre to provide lower costs to patients.
Dr. Doobay, however, said that the centre needs greater support now with funds dwindling but the demand for services still increasing. To remedy this, Dr. Doobay and the directors of the centre have come up with an ingenious plan to continue helping patients who need dialysis.
The doctor explained that if people visit the centre and utilise their other services – including laboratory, x-ray and ultrasound services, the pharmacy and the eye clinic – then the centre would be able to subsidise the cost of dialysis treatment.
Dr. Doobay also called for greater support from corporate Guyana, noting that the existing support is not enough to ably sustain operations and the services of the centre. He underscored that the centre is not focused on garnering profits but instead, provide many services to people who are in dire need.
And, he emphasised, “… if we close the centre down, patients are going to die.”
Already, another branch of the medical centre, which was located in New Amsterdam Berbice, was forced to close since its operations could not be sustained. Those patients from the ancient country, who require dialysis, have to travel to Annandale for life-saving treatment.