By Laura Ann Tipps/Staff Writer
The staff of DaVita Rainbow City Dialysis is dedicated to taking proactive steps to improve the lives of its patients, most recently by adding extended treatment hours to accommodate those who maintain employment.
Now, patients have the option of starting their approximately four-hour sessions as late as 7p.m., allowing them to work a full day before traveling to the clinic.
“It helps them to know that they’re still functioning members of society,” said Shellie Elrod, Facility Administrator.
The benefits for patients who continue working are quantifiable.
They experience lower rates of depression, fewer hospitalizations, and a greater sense of financial security for themselves and for their families.
“You try to make the best out of a bad situation, and to see a good thing here is just wonderful,” said Dan Miller, who has been a client of DaVita Rainbow City Dialysis for more than two years.
Miller, a machinist who also works on racecars, said that starting dialysis at 3 p.m. instead of 5 a.m. has made a tremendous difference in his life, which changed drastically when he was diagnosed with renal failure.
The kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid every day, returning it to the bloodstream after waste and toxins have been removed.
Because renal failure is so often deadly if untreated, dialyzing at least three days per week is necessary after diagnosis.
“Some patients are fortunate enough to regain function, but for the most part, they are here for the remainder of their lives, unless they get a transplant,” said Elrod.
Two modalities of dialysis can be performed at home, but for those who choose to receive treatment at the clinic, the time commitment is significant.
According to Miller, it is nearly impossible to continue working regular hours without the clinic’s willingness to add shifts later in the day.
“Even if it’s just for one patient, it’s worth it to have this evening shift,” said Elrod.
That attitude results in satisfied patients like Miller, who said he appreciates the cheerful atmosphere and compassionate staff.
“Nobody is snippy or short, and I can see how they could be—this is a tough job, but they seem to enjoy doing it and I’ve been really impressed,” he said.
Elrod and the rest of the DaVita team do not limit their goals to the walls of the clinic, though.
Through Kidney Smart classes taught by one of DaVita’s nurses, Elrod hopes to educate the community about the importance of kidney function and to do all she can to prevent even one case of renal failure.
“Anything we can do to keep you off this machine—that’s our goal,” she said.
For more information about upcoming classes, visit kidneysmart.org.
Although the signs and symptoms of renal failure are often difficult to detect and can even mimic the flu or a cold, there are a few identifiable risk factors.
Diabetes and hypertension are the two most common causes of renal failure, but it can also be age-related, caused by injury or surgery, or the result of another disease like lupus.
Kidney failure can even be triggered by extensive use of medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antibiotics in people who are already compromised or predisposed.
Elrod said that early referral to a nephrologist (a doctor who specializes in kidney function) is key in securing the best prognosis possible, but there is one particularly important way to catch a kidney problem before the organs fail: Regular doctor visits.
A physician will monitor lab work, such as blood and urine tests, for changes that could indicate kidney issues. Sometimes, adjustments to diet or medications are sufficient to prevent full renal failure.
The good news for those already suffering from kidney failure is that centers like DaVita Rainbow City Dialysis are working to make treatment as streamlined and enjoyable as possible.
Elrod said the clinic’s goal is to add even more hours, like a nocturnal shift.
“Everybody here has been willing to take on these extended hours, and their positive attitudes make life easier – it’s our job to make this as pleasant as possible.”