DaVita dialysis clinic in D.C. shut down due to inadequate air conditioning

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – For people going through dialysis, sitting for hours can be grueling. But imagine sitting for hours—in the summer—without air conditioning. When ABC 7 News discovered that DaVita Lee Street Dialysis in Northeast D.C. was without air conditioning, 7 On Your Side jumped into action.

On Thursday morning, dialysis patients complained to ABC 7 News about the heat inside the clinic, as well as their concerns about how the heat may impact their health.

“It’s miserable to sit down in the chair for three and a half hours, sweating,” said patient Willie Smith. “That brings on itching and, because of dialysis and everything, it’s miserable.”

Patient Donna Harrell said, “It’s too much blood for it to be that damned hot, and I’m not trying to catch nothing.”

Dialysis patient Laranda Quarles added, “They would, like, give them a cool cloth to put on they head to try to cool ‘em off, I mean, even the techs are very hot.”

Patients said the indoor heat has been going on for weeks; the facility has put out a flier apologizing for the heat. The clinic has put in a few space coolers, but they’re not working very efficiently.

ABC 7 News learned one of the two cooling units has been out of commission since May, and the second simply can’t do the job. 7 On Your Side relayed patient complaints to DaVita’s corporate headquarters in Denver. On Thursday afternoon, a corporate spokesperson agreed that the Northeast D.C. facility was too hot, saying no more patients would be accepted that day.

Patients were rerouted to other facilities Thursday, and the Lee Street clinic is bringing in an industrial-sized temporary cooling unit to lower the temperature.

After DaVita’s announcement, a MetroAccess bus came and left a patient at the clinic anyway.

“I have other patients I have to deliver,” said the bus driver, Johnny Anthony.

It was up to the DaVita staff to find facilities and transportation for patients to other clinics.

DaVita’s corporate spokesman said the Lee Street clinic will reopen when it has cooled to the company standard of 72 degrees. A permanent fix is still weeks away.