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Repairs to fire-damaged building completed in three months


Staff writer

After a damaging fire in July caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette resulted in three months of substantial renovations, the Independent Dialysis Foundation Calvert Dialysis Center in Prince Frederick reopened its doors Nov. 8.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Dr. Ciaran Browne, medical director of the dialysis center, of being back in the building. “I think the hardest part for the patients was that they were all separated from each other … and just to get everybody back together again really was huge.”

At 1:44 p.m. July 19, about 42 firefighters from the Prince Frederick, North Beach, Dunkirk, Solomons, St. Leonard, Huntingtown and Benedict volunteer fire departments responded to a fire at the dialysis center at the intersection of Prince Frederick Boulevard and West Dares Beach Road.

The fire, which was reported by employees, was controlled in about 20 minutes. No patients were in the building at the time of the fire and the three staff members who were inside escaped without harm. No injuries were caused by the fire.

Fire officials determined the fire was accidental from a carelessly discarded cigarette thrown into a trash can situated against a small storage container, which was next to the main building. The container quickly ignited, officials said, and the fire spread up the side of the building and to the roof. Significant smoke and heat damage was done to the medical equipment, the press release states, and the business was displaced as a result of the fire.

About $150,000 in structural damage and about $50,000 in damage to its contents were caused by the fire.

Since the fire destroyed everything in the treatment area, according to a press release sent Tuesday, the patients and staff were welcomed home to a new design and new equipment.

“The place is unrecognizable,” Browne said. “The whole facility is just different. … People have said that it’s a more therapeutic atmosphere.”

The speedy reconstruction was made possible by the leadership of Jack Hammett, who worked closely with the center’s staff to create a state-of-the-art, patient-centered facility, the press release states. The extent of the damage required gutting the entire building and allowed for complete modernization of the facility, which originally opened in October 1992.

Browne said it “was unbelievable” how quickly Hammett was able to get the building repaired, adding that even two weeks after the fire occurred he had the roof replaced. She said the community and the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners showed a lot of support during the reconstruction of the center.

“I think everyone understood that it’s not just a building,” she said.

During the reconstruction, the press release states, the displaced patients received their dialysis treatments locally without interruption at Calvert Memorial Hospital and at RCP Dialysis. The center’s staff demonstrated dedication to their patients by working days, evenings and weekends to ensure all patients received their scheduled treatments.