Opening its doors in 1972, Central Florida Kidney Center, Inc. (CFKC) was the first kidney dialysis facility to serve patients in Central Florida and one of the first three to operate in the state of Florida. Prior to the commencement of CFKC operations, a kidney dialysis patient in Central Florida had to drive to Gainesville three times a week for treatment at the University of Florida Shands Hospital.
Initially known as the “Central Florida Artificial Kidney Center,” the company was formed under the direction of Dr. Allen Holcomb and Dr. William Hall, along with Camille Engle, RN and Executive Director & fundraiser, Mary Sanderson. With the support of numerous community leaders, prominent among them were Jobie Watson, donor of the Center’s first dialysis machine, general contractor Eugene Kelsey III, bankers Ernest Kelly and Sherman Dantzler, and former City of Winter Park Mayor James Driver, CFKC opened its doors and began treating kidney dialysis patients.
In the beginning, CFKC provided dialysis out of a small, converted residential house on Sturtevant Street which was leased from Orlando Regional Medical Center, now Orlando Health. That small house, where Winnie Palmer Hospital for Woman and Babies now stands, had room for only two dialysis machines and could serve only adult patients.
Medical and technological advances created rapid growth in dialysis care in the 1970s. On November 1, 1977 and as a result of CFKC leadership and financial support, our Melbourne Kidney Center was created and launched to serve the Brevard County community.
In 1978, Maureen Michael, an employee of Orlando Health, was ‘temporarily” loaned to CFKC and assumed the position of Executive Director. After several years, Maureen came onboard fulltime and for the next thirty years under her leadership as Executive Director and CEO, CFKC grew and expanded to five locations throughout Central Florida. During her tenure, Maureen became a leader and spokesperson for dialysis operators and patients nationwide, also serving as President of the Florida Renal Administrators Association, 1984-1986, and as President of the National Renal Administrators Association (now Renal Healthcare Association) 1988-1989. Upon her retirement in 2010, the Renal Healthcare Association established the Maureen Michael Honorary Scholarship for members in it committees and programs.
As a result of the rapid growth in dialysis services, CFKC moved from its original small house on Sturtevant Street to a location on Bonnie Loch Court in 1983, near the present-day Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital. With twenty-eight hemodialysis stations, three training stations for peritoneal (home) dialysis, and included two isolation areas, shortly after opening, all of the dialysis stations were full, with patients from all over Central Florida.
The Board of Directors and CFKC leadership soon realized the demand for dialysis services was far greater than what our flagship center could provide, and from 1987 to today, CFKC has supported the Central Florida medical community by operating additional satellite dialysis facilities, endowing scholarships and providing much needed support throughout Central Florida. In 1987 CFKC endowed the Central Florida Kidney Center Eminent Scholar Chair in Nephrology at the University of Florida. Dr. Craig Tischer was appointed as the endowment’s First Eminent Scholar.
In 1991, CFKC pediatric nephrologist and former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Norman Pryor, created a pediatric dialysis program serving children. Our pediatric patients are now able to receive dialysis at home or in-center. CFKC frequently hosts “Make a Wish” patients when those patients are visiting Central Florida, and our dialysis centers are conveniently located near area attractions such as Disney Word, Universal Studios Orlando, Legoland, Orlando Magic’s Amway Arena, ICON Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center.
In 2009 and upon the retirement of Mrs. Michael, CFKC endowed the Maureen Michael Nursing Scholarship at Seminole State College. In 2014 at the request of the Melbourne Kidney Center (MKC), its Brevard operations merged back into CFKC.
Today CFKC operates seven dialysis centers in Orange, Osceola and Brevard Counties is proud to be one of only a handful of non-profit dialysis organizations remaining in the United States.