OLD school? NOT!
Dialysis training facility first of its kind in area
By Barry Shatzman, STAFF WRITER
UNION CITY, CA
LINO ALPHONSO believes in his product so much that he thinks everyone should use it. Even the competition.
Alphonso is one of the founders of the Hemodialysis Training School, which opened recently next to the Union City BART Station. The school —
the only one of its kind in Northern California — trains its students to become licensed providers of dialysis care for people whose kidneys have
One of those students is Orlando Sullera. A former computer technician, Sullera, 41, found himself getting crowded out of the tech field. He
recently has been working at a job processing medical records, but he said he missed the technical work.
"(Hemodialysis) is tech, but at the same time hands-on caregiving," he said.
There should be plenty of job opportunities for people such as Sullera once they get their licenses, Alphonso said. About 300,000 Americans go
to dialysis centers up to three times a week, to be hooked up to a machine that will clean their blood in the same way a healthy kidney would.
And that number is rising rapidly, with 20,000 new patients added each year.
"This is a niche market. The minute you get that license, ... you have (job) security," he said.
Despite those numbers, there wereno schools in this area dedicated to training hemodialysis technicians until Alphonso's school started its first
class last month. Each of the five largest companies that maintain dialysis clinics in the Bay Area trains its own technicians.
And that is where Alphonso sees the biggest opportunity. He hopes to partner with the clinics, serving as a training school for their technicians.
By taking over the screening, teaching and testing of new technicians, he said, he can save them half of what it costs them to do it. He said the
technicians also would be better trained because they would learn in a dedicated training facility.
"If they accept us, it's a win-win situation," Alphonso said.
He said he has drawn interest from the major clinics, and is in talks with one to have it donate new dialysis machines to the school's lab.
But he still might find it an uphill battle.
LeAnne Zumwalt, vice president of DaVita, one of the major clinics, said her company is happy with the training it provides its employees, citing
an award the company recently received from Training magazine.
Resistance to the business model proposed by the Hemodialysis Training School is to be expected, said Stan Gazay, the school's director.
"When you start something new, it's always, 'Show me, don't tell me,'" Gazay said. "We'll show them we can train their technicians better."
The next 9-week training class will start June 13. For information, call (510) 475-5630 or visit www.htsuc.com on the Web.
Barry Shatzman can be reached at (510) 353-7003, or Email to Barry Shatzman.