Campaign aims give help, hope to kidney patients

A health care campaign is being launched in Nebraska that aims to prolong and improve the lives of people with kidney problems. Kathleen Smith, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for Fresenius Medical Care, says the effort is being dubbed “PEAK,” for Performance Excellence and Accountability in Kidney Care.
“The primary goal of the program is to reduce first-year mortality in patients beginning dialysis,” Smith says. “That mortality rate has always been high — in the 20-percent range.” Smith says the program aims to cut death rates by 20-percent, which would extend the lives of ten-thousand kidney patients by the end of 2012.
She says it’s hard for some people to adapt to dialysis and the program aims to better equip Nebraska health care providers with tools to help first-year dialysis patients make the transition.
“Early interventions with new patients, education primary among them, and attention to the medical problems that are present with patients when they first begin dialysis,” Smith says. “They have an entire organ system that’s not functioning.” Money is always a concern in health care issues and Smith says implementing this program should result in fewer hospitalizations, which will bring a savings of Medicare dollars.
She says kidney disease is becoming more prevalent in Nebraska and nationwide. Diseases that typically lead to kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. Smith says both diseases are widespread in the U-S, and they’re both considered “silent” diseases. “For people who do not have regular checkups or screenings,” Smith says, “those diseases can go undetected long enough to cause serious impacts on certain organ systems, the kidneys in particular.”
Fresenius has three Nebraska facilities — in North Platte, Grand Island, Kearney and Sioux City, Iowa. For more information, visit: www.kidneycarequality.com.