WELCH, WV (WVNS) — A local dialysis center closes with little to no warning.

“The seniors at McDowell County are the most vulnerable in the state. Dialysis is not a luxury. It’s a life-saving necessity. These seniors are now burdened with how to get to neighboring counties just to survive, this is an emergent and immediate need,” said Dr. Donald Reed, the executive director of the McDowell County Commission on Aging.

Dr. Reed’s urgency comes as Fresenius Kidney Care closed its Welch office with little to no notice for the community.

“Myself and a lot of other people, they didn’t know about it until it was just about getting ready to close, and it was sad it was really sad because it was some other something going out of McDowell County and we don’t need it going out we need it coming in,” said Cora Scales, the president of the board of the commission on aging.

Also known as the Welch Dialysis center, it provides necessary care to people with chronic kidney disease

According to Harold McBride, mayor of the city of Welch, representatives from the corporate office came to city officials in December of 2022, stating the office lacked the proper workforce and client base. The branch closed at the beginning of 2023.

With the closest branches now in Oceana or Bluefield, many are left scrambling to pick up the pieces.

“When we got the call we were already at our bare minimum with transporting our dialysis clients because of our lack of staff so when we got the call we were in a panic because we knew this was a life-saving treatment,” said Shanita Evans, the transportation coordinator for the commission on aging.

The McDowell County Commission on Aging works to provide transportation for those in need of treatment, adding to the growing list of services for their understaffed organization. Before the closure, they transported a small number of dialysis patients to and from the center in Welch.

Now they are forced to focus their newest driver solely on taking patients to Oceana, eight hours a day, three days a week.

“It has placed a lot of them in a hardship, and we can only service so many people and we have so many calls coming in and they are going in on different days than we are going on already and makes it difficult on everyone,” said Evans.

A community searching for answers, an organization asking for help, and patients in need of medical attention.

We reached out to Fresenius for comment and have yet to receive an answer.