Edith King of Pittsfield has been on dialysis for about two years, spending more than three hours in treatment three times a week.

 The Berkshire Eagle reports the 80-year-old Pittsfield resident was all smiles Friday afternoon while sitting in one of the 21 stations at the new Berkshire Medical Center renal dialysis center on Conte Drive.

 The opening of the Central County Dialysis Center marked the completion of Berkshire Medical Center's three-year, $6 million project to expand dialysis services. The center is open Monday through Saturday and is treating about 84 people a week.

The South County Renal Dialysis Center in Great Barrington was fully renovated last year and is open three days a week, serving about 20 patients in nine treatment chairs.

The North County Renal Dialysis Center opened in fall 2016, at the BMC North Campus, and has 12 treatment chairs, serving 35 patients Monday through Saturday.

 While most hospitals across the country are moving away from in-house dialysis and opting to refer their patients to for-profit centers, Berkshire Medical Center decided to go in the opposite direction, said David Henner, the medical director of BMC Kidney Disease & Hypertension Center.

Compared with many other regions in the state, Berkshire County has a higher number of people who require dialysis, according to spokesman Michael Leary, who said that the financial health of BMC allowed the institution to meet that need.

Berkshire Medical Center is one of two hospitals in the state that offers outpatient dialysis, Phelps said.

Henner said that survival rates and referrals for kidney transplants from dialysis centers at hospitals is often higher than at for-profit centers.

 Because patients spend so much time in treatment, not always feeling well afterward, BMC staff makes it a priority to ensure that their patients are comfortable, Henner said, whether it be getting them a warm blanket, cup of coffee or just chatting.

 The Central County Dialysis Center also provides training to its patients who perform their own dialysis at home.

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