Doctors from the East Coast to the West Coast, as well as outside the U.S., flocked to see the Regional Medical Center’s state-of-the-art Dialysis Access Institute last week.

“It means a lot to have doctors coming from all over to see what has been established and done. It is huge,” said Dr. John Ross, the founder of the institute.

On Thursday morning, the Dialysis Access Institute hosted several international physicians who are experts in the field of dialysis access. The doctors were in South Carolina for the Vascular Access for Hemodialysis Symposium in Charleston.

During their visit, the physicians toured the DAI’s facility and learned of the cases that are often sent to the institute in Orangeburg.

“What we have been doing is trying to show people what we are doing, how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it. Many companies have medical devices and when we learn how to use those devices appropriately or better than what they thought, they then bring in doctors to see how these devices could be used or how they could be incorporated in their practice to better serve patients,” Ross said.

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Ross has been serving the Orangeburg community, along with connecting states and counties, as founder of the Dialysis Access Institute since 2011. He saw success shortly after opening the doors.

“I felt that this institute would be remarkably successful – despite the location. We know that there is an increasingly large volume of dialysis access to be done. We needed to figure out a way to be able to do this very efficiently for the patients. If we were to build a building, have the appropriate, motivated personnel, and be focused on doing this, there was no way it could be a failure, it would be impossible,” Ross said.

Ross founded the institute in Orangeburg when he noticed that there is not a place for doctors to go to learn how to perform a dialysis-based operation.

“We learned how to do these operations a long time ago back in 1979 and we kept learning more about how to do the operations through repetition because there was nowhere to go to learn how,” Ross said.

“Then we developed certain operations, prompting patients who were having trouble to come to Orangeburg. They eventually ended up hearing about us in a rural area. Then it made no difference whether you were downtown New York or whether you were in San Francisco or wherever. … People felt that we were obtaining good results in what we were doing, so the patients were coming from far distances and other doctors – they talk to each other and say ‘Well, you might want to look at this place we have up in Orangeburg. They seem to be doing a really good job at taking care of these patients,’” Ross said.

Ross said care for dialysis patients is a top priority because their life depends on the operations that the institute performs.

He urges doctors to learn and understand what the best outcomes are for the patients.

“There will be some that do things quite a bit differently and it does not necessarily matter how they do it, as long as they get the appropriate outcome. Everything is about: Are you getting the appropriate outcome? There are many ways of doing these particular procedures, but you always have to look at your outcomes and see if we are doing it the best way we possibly can,” Ross said.

Ross continues to see a need for the institute.

“Right now, we were certainly the leader in trying to establish what we call the total access center – where everything can be done under one roof. Other folks are trying to do this now and I think this is going to be the model for the future. I really do believe it,” Ross said.

“I want this institute to grow and grow and grow.”

Lauren Pringle, a 2022 Claflin University mass communications graduate, is reporting for The Times and Democrat as a Lee Enterprises-sponsored summer intern.

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