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Dialysis Center Focuses on Family Atmosphere for Patients

UVMC’s Dialysis Center staff does everything it can to make those receiving dialysis feel at home.

“The center becomes a temporary home of sorts three days a week for about four hours each for patients on dialysis. We want their time with us to be as comfortable as possible,” said C.J. Kostecka, RN, BSN, Director of Nursing for the Center. 

“This Dialysis team prides itself on being caring and compassionate. It is not just about doing a dialysis treatment. Staff are committed to treating each of our patients with respect and making sure they are meeting their needs,” she said.

“It is not just getting them on the machine.  It involves finding out what else is going on in their life that we can help facilitate,” she added. “We take care of the person in a holistic manner by providing resources for a lot of things.”  

For many patients, the dialysis visit is more than a treatment session, as staff listen to them and talk with them, said Meisha Kreinbrink, RN, BSN, Nurse Supervisor for Dialysis. “We have patients who tell us they look forward to coming to dialysis,” she smiled. “That’s what we strive for.”

The center each year hosts a summer picnic for patients, families and staff and holds a Christmas party for patients. 

“We try to build a family atmosphere here for our patients, and they seem to appreciate that,” Kostecka said.  “Our patient satisfaction scores are very high, which is unusual in dialysis patients because dialysis is not something anyone wants to have to do.”

The UVMC Dialysis Center provides hemodialysis, which is a cleansing of the blood of patients whose kidneys no longer are functioning at an optimal level.  Located on the grounds of Upper Valley Medical Center north of Troy, the Center has 22 stations and provides approximately 12,000 treatments per year. 

In addition to providing regular on-site hemodialysis at the center, the staff can help local patients who want to travel – such as over the holidays – to make dialysis arrangements elsewhere, and will work with patients from other states who are traveling and need dialysis here.  They also can handle workups for any patient interested in possible transplantation.  

New state of the art dialysis machines were added at the center earlier this year. The treatment suite is equipped with heated chairs and individual TVs for each patient.  

The center serves adult patients of all ages with some very independent and others dependent on 24-hour care, Kreinbrink said.  Many of the patients have diabetes and/or hypertension, which are major contributors to kidney disease,

Nephrologist Sayed Ali, M.D., works very closely with the center’s patients, handling inpatient care if they are hospitalized and performing interventional procedures if a patient’s treatment access fistula needs attention.

The center does not provide peritoneal (at home) dialysis, but Dr. Ali works with another center for those wanting to pursue that modality and training.

The center staff includes RNs, LPNs and Ohio Certified Dialysis Technicians.

The center participates in the Fistula First tracking system by the Renal Network. The network has set a standard to encourage facilities to have 65 percent or greater patients using fistulas. That’s because dialysis patients with fistulas (as opposed to catheters) experience fewer infections than catheters and usually receive better treatment than a catheter can provide, Kreinbrink said.

The center for the past six months has had a fistula rate of higher than 67 percent and for the past two years has had a fistula rate of 60 percent or greater each month, she noted.

For patients who anticipate they will soon need dialysis, the center holds education classes four to six times a year. Participants are sent to the class by nephrologists who use the center – Dr. Ali and Mohammad Saklayen, M.D. – and usually are in the stage before hemodialysis will be needed six to 18 months down the road.

Kostecka, who teaches the classes, said the goal is to provide basic knowledge about their disease process and what options are available and get them thinking about who will provide support as they move into a dialysis program.

“We are trying to share with them you don’t have to change what you are doing. You may have to alter when you do things because of the time to be spent in dialysis,” Kostecka said.

“Each patient decides how active they want and can be,” Kreinbrink said. “We have a number who don’t let dialysis control their life. They control dialysis,” she said.