Dialysis patient’s daughter calls for change after crash into Phoenix dialysis center

A woman is calling for more driving restrictions for patients after a driver crashed into a Phoenix dialysis center.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 4:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Dialysis patients in north Phoenix have to go elsewhere for care after a driver plowed into the clinic, hurting three people Wednesday. Phoenix police clarified the driver was a man, not a woman, who crashed into the building near 19th and Dunlap avenues. First responders said the man was on his way to get dialysis care. Phoenix Police tell us the man driving will not be cited, and the three people hurt are expected to be OK.

The crash isn’t the first time an accident like this has happened, and this whole ordeal is bringing back painful memories for Jacinda Contreras. Her mother is a dialysis patient and she was involved in a crash a few years ago. She hopes speaking out now will bring about some kind of change before another dangerous incident involving dialysis patients happens again. “I do think the blame falls on the treatment centers,” said Contreras.

In November 2021, her mother, Julia Contreras, hit and killed an off-duty Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputy after passing out while driving home from treatment at a facility in Scottsdale. “The consequences of not listening to the patient, lives have been lost,” said Jacinda Contreras.

Julia said she told her medical team repeatedly that she was concerned about getting behind the wheel after her appointments. “I park the car. I come home, and the only thing I could do was go straight to my bed because I did not even have the strength to make myself a cup of coffee,” she explained.

She worried they were withdrawing too much fluid during dialysis, which was making her tired and feel faint. “She said she doesn’t want to get into an accident. She asked them, ‘Is it OK for me to drive?’ All of them assured her that everything was fine,” said Jacinda Contreras.

Julia was 69 years old at the time and pleaded guilty in the case. She can no longer drive and is now using a medical transport service to get to and from dialysis three times a week. “I think this could have been avoided,” said Jacinda Contreras.

Phoenix police have not released what led to the Wednesday crash where a dialysis patient drove into a clinic on Dunlap. But for Jacinda, seeing this play out stirs up a call for action. She hopes dialysis treatment centers take patient concerns seriously and put safety first. “They’re risking lives. Lives of their patients and lives of other people that could be affected by the consequences of what happens with those patients as they try to leave or drive themselves home from those centers,” said Jacinda Contreras.

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