New dialysis center will bear name of tireless champion of county Kidney Fund HOWARD COUNTY HEALTH

December 01, 1992|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Contributing Writer

After years of turning the spotlight on the Howard County Kidney Fund, Maxine Mullican is about to get a little recognition back.

When a new dialysis center opens soon in Columbia, it will be named for the 79-year-old Ellicott City resident, who has spent countless hours for the last 20 years promoting and raising money for the Kidney Fund, which she founded in 1972.

"Maxine has been active for years in Howard County in the care of kidney patients," said Dr. James Carey, a kidney specialist who is president of the Dialysis Management of Maryland. "She has made tremendous contributions."

The exact name of the new center has not been decided on.

The new dialysis treatment center will be run by Dialysis Management at 5999 Harpers Farm Road. It is expected to open by January, replacing a smaller, basement facility established in 1982 next to Howard County General Hospital.

The new first-floor center -- besides being a lighter, cheerier spot -- will allow the center to serve as many as 18 patients at once, three more than the current center. It also will have the latest medical equipment, Dr. Carey said.

Mrs. Mullican responds modestly to any discussion of her contributions, preferring to talk about the work yet to be done.

"The Howard County Kidney Fund is very close to my heart," she said. "I spoil the patients, and I will keep on spoiling them."

Her efforts, spurred by the illness of her son, Jerry, who died of renal failure at age 30 in 1974, were instrumental in establishing the first dialysis center in the county.

"Maxine's assistance and hard work helped me to put that unit together," said Dr. Carey, who operates two other facilities, in Baltimore and in Baltimore County.

Twenty years ago, Mrs. Mullican's only option was transporting her son to Baltimore hospitals for dialysis treatments. At the time, she said, there were no local facilities and transportation was a major problem for kidney patients needing dialysis three or four times a week.

The cost was another problem: $500 per treatment.

Realizing that many kidney patients faced money and transportation problems, Mrs. Mullican approached the Ellicott City Jaycees in 1972 about sponsoring the Howard County Kidney Fund.

The fund was established the next year as an independent, non-profit organization with about 15 volunteers. They drove local kidney patients for treatment at hospitals in Baltimore for several years until the county contributed money toward the purchase of a car and the Urban Rural Transportation Alliance took over the job.

Volunteers organized dances, crab feasts, bull roasts and other events to raise money to defray transportation costs.

Because there were only four dialysis units -- all in Baltimore -- Kidney Fund volunteers next launched meetings with Dr. Carey, who had been interested in opening a unit in Howard County. He opened a dialysis unit in 1983 with eight patients, Mrs. Mullican said.

Mindful of the patients' needs, Kidney Fund members supplied the center with paintings and plants, and bought a public address system so that patients could listen to music. And, to alleviate the boredom of four-hour dialysis treatments, volunteers visited the patients.

"We played Scrabble, cards and bingo," said Kitty Femia, a volunteer since 1983. The fund has since bought 15 televisions, one for each patient.

Efforts continued through the years, with Mrs. Mullican at the helm as president of the organization off and on.

Today, a group of 11 volunteers sponsors an annual luncheon and fashion show that raises $4,000 to $5,000. The money is used for various needs, including medical equipment.

"We are paying for meals on wheels for a patient who is living alone; we have paid people's rent, car insurance and have given cash to those who need necessities," Mrs. Mullican said. Recently, she delivered a bag of groceries to a patient who called to say she had no food.

Although many goals have been met, Mrs. Mullican has more.

"I would like office space with a desk, a typewriter and file cabinet with someone on duty most of the time. . . . Right now, we are doing our work out of our homes. If we had an office we would be more viable."

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