More than 26 million people in the United States are affected by kidney disease. For those who have end stage renal disease (ESRD), quality treatment is provided by a team of caring professionals in Fresenius’ people-friendly atmosphere. For the family members of those with ESRD, education is available on diet and nutrition as well as valuable tips on understanding the disease.
Fresenius Medical has more than 39,000 employees nationwide who offer care to more than 128,700 patients in one of 1,700 clinics.
According to Tawnia Thacker, registered nurse and clinical manager of Fresenius Medical Care of Bradley County, the organization has been a global leader in dialysis for more than 25 years, making Fresenius the largest provider of renal services in North America.
“We are a certified UltraCare facility and that makes us different because of the high level of standard of care we are required to hold up to, which covers safety features and education that we offer our staff and our patients,” said Thacker.
Fresenius’ website states, “UltraCare is the name used to describe the commitment of the entire Fresenius Medical Care organization to deliver the highest standard of care to its patients. Each Fresenius Medical Services staff member lives the UltraCare mission every day: Improving the Quality of Life of Every Patient, Every Treatment.
“The majority of our staff has been here 13 to 15 years which makes us a stable and experienced staff,” Thacker said. “We know our weaknesses and our strengths and we know each other’s work ethics.”
With the singular goal of providing superior care, staffers focus on improving quality of life and health to those they serve. According to registered dietitian Amy Davenport, who has been with Fresenius since 1998, she and the health care team work closely with doctors to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient. One aspect of her role is to introduce the tools each individual will need to establish healthy living.
“We provide quality hemodialysis and strive to achieve superior patient outcomes and improve the health and quality of life of the community we serve,” Davenport said.
“There are special considerations for people on dialysis and with kidney disease,” she said. “They have to think about special diets because the wrong foods can be harmful — even detrimental to them. We highlight some of the points they have to consider which is to limit their fluid, control the amount of phosphorus, potassium and sodium in their diet.”
Davenport emphasizes the need for patients to make good choices when dining out or at special events where meals are prepared by others. She reminds them they play the most important role in their treatment.
“By keeping these things in mind health failure can be prevented,” said Davenport.
Thacker and Davenport both agree they make a difference every day in the lives of dialysis patients.
“Anyone who works in this field knows they make a difference because every minute someone is on a machine it matters,” Thacker said. “Their mortality is affected by any type of treatment that is abbreviated or missed.”
Due to the fact malnutrition can be a risk if patients do not follow their nutrition plan, Davenport is always seeking out new educational tools to deliver the life-saving message. With the assistance from Lacey Chastain of Fresenius of Athens, Davenport used a tree to bring awareness to kidney disease, diabetes and those on dialysis. By decorating the tree with food replicas as helpful suggestions, her goal was to remind patients they are in charge of their own health.
Davenport suggests the family of someone who has been diagnosed with kidney disease or kidney failure learn as much about the disease as possible and consider attending the Fresenius Treatment Options (TOPS) class designed to inform patients about the various treatments available. The class presenters are local staff, which include a social worker, a dietitian and a registered nurse. They, along with special instructor Rhonda McCammon, RN-TOPS of Knoxville, will be there to answer questions. The first Wednesday of every month the class is held at Bradley County Health Department at 3 p.m.
“Becoming educated will help family members be better caretakers and show support to the loved one,” Davenport said.
More information about kidney disease, the clinic and modified recipes can be found at Fresenius’ website at ultracare-dialysis.com.