If you go

DCI hosts information sessions on dialysis at 1 p.m. every Friday. They are open to the public. The clinic is at 5300 Archdale Blvd., North Charleston. Call 552-0935.DCI also will attend a health fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at The Citadel’s Mark Clark Hall.

A new dialysis clinic has opened in North Charleston to serve a growing population expected to have high rates of kidney failure.

What is dialysis?

According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis removes waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body; keeps a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate; and helps to control blood pressure.There are two types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal.HemodialysisIn hemodialysis, an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) is used to remove waste, extra chemicals and fluid from the blood. To get your blood into the artificial kidney, the doctor needs to make an access (entrance) into your blood vessels. This is done by minor surgery to your arm or leg.Peritoneal dialysisIn peritoneal dialysis, your blood is cleaned inside your body. The doctor will do surgery to place a catheter into your abdomen to make an access. During the treatment, your abdominal area (called the peritoneal cavity) is slowly filled with dialysate through the catheter. The blood stays in the arteries and veins that line your peritoneal cavity. Extra fluid and waste products are drawn out of your blood and into the dialysate.

DCI, a nonprofit chain of clinics, opened a 20-chair facility on Archdale Boulevard in Dorchester County earlier this year.

By the numbers

26 millionNumber of Americans with chronic kidney disease$39 billionTotal annual cost of treating end-stage renal disease in 2008576,000Number of South Carolinians with chronic kidney disease75%Amount of kidney patients in South Carolina who are blackS.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control

The chain considers hypertension rates when deciding where to open clinics, said Debbie Batte, the facility’s nurse manager.

Hypertension and diabetes are risk factors for chronic kidney disease, which reduces the body’s ability to filter blood. Patients with kidney failure require dialysis to remove waste and extra water from their blood.

Last week, DCI administrators hosted volunteers from a local Home Depot store that had donated $1,200 in shelving, tools, storage units and landscaping materials. Chris Novak, operations manager of the North Charleston store, said the store regularly donates to local groups.

“They led me down the aisle and said to get whatever we needed,” said Hollis Phillips, a DCI administrator.

South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation in the rate of residents on dialysis, according to a fact sheet from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Evaluation. About 75 percent of them are black, according to the fact sheet. Most patients with kidney failure get dialysis for four hours, three days a week, Phillips said.

About 576,000 South Carolinians, or one-in-eight, have chronic kidney disease, according to DHEC.

Construction on the clinic was completed a year ago. It opened to four patients in January while awaiting full DHEC certification.

Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly, low-income and disabled people, would not cover treatment until the clinic met that certification, Batte said.

Fully certified, it is accepting new patients, she said.

DCI operates more than a dozen clinics statewide.

Reach Renee Dudley at 937-5550 or on Twitter @renee_dudley.