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Dialysis system at Aurora's new VA medical center isn't working properly

The dialysis treatment system at the brand new VA medical center in Aurora isn't doing a good enough job purifying water, meaning portable dialysis machines are being used instead.

KUSA — It cost a billion dollars more than the Department of Veterans Affairs expected. It took nine years to build – five more than was planned.

While the Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in Aurora is finally open, some equipment used to treat veterans on dialysis is not working properly. Specifically, the main dialysis system installed in the hospital is currently offline and not being used on patients, the hospital confirmed to 9NEWS.

Routine testing of different parts of the system resulted in water quality levels that fell short of standards for dialysis treatment.

A spokeswoman for the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System said the water supplied to all areas of the hospital is safe. The hospital wants to see consistency in all samples before it begins using the larger dialysis system for treatment.

“We’re not quite there yet as having met those standards, and so from a safety perspective we’re using our portable systems instead,” Dr. Ellen Mangione, the chief of staff for the Eastern Colorado Health System, said to 9NEWS in an interview Tuesday.

Mangione said the portable units are already used for in-patient care.

The VA medical center services about 300 dialysis patients in Colorado. Most of those patients receive dialysis treatment at dialysis centers close to home. Mangione said 14 patients come to the Aurora campus for out-patient dialysis treatment. Those patients are currently being treated with the portable machines.

“Having all of these portables was really part of our plan. It’s really not disrupted our care to our patients,” Mangione said. “Until you bring these systems fully up and operational, it’s difficult to understand exactly what challenges you might encounter as you’re doing that, which is always why we have a contingency plan available to us.”

Mangione couldn’t offer a timeline for when the main dialysis system would be up and running.

“We hope soon rather than later, of course, but in the meantime, we continue to do the testing and to try to meet the standards and to work very closely with the contractor who provided us with the equipment in the first place,” she said.

The hospital opened for use on July 21.

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