Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    


Tennessee Kidney Foundation: Supporting Those Fighting Kidney Disease


 
Heather Corum Powell

Kidney disease impacts 30 million Americans. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the overall prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the general U.S. population is 14 percent.

"People don't talk about kidneys the way they do other organs like the heart and lungs, but almost everyone knows someone impacted by kidney disease," said Heather Corum Powell, CEO of the Tennessee Kidney Foundation (TKF). "The rate of kidney disease increases 10-15 percent every year," she continued, noting diabetes, hypertension, and aging are all risk factors for developing CKD.

The Tennessee Kidney Foundation is there to support patients and providers through a variety of educational resources and funding mechanisms to ensure patients receive the lifesaving care needed. "We serve a 40-county area throughout Middle Tennessee. Our mission is to empower and support those at risk or affected by kidney disease," Powell said.

She added the organization considers all its programs to be preventative - whether that is primary, secondary or tertiary prevention. On the primary prevention front, TKF provides education about maintaining kidney health through exercise, maintaining stable blood pressure, exercise, healthy diet, and avoidance of sugary drinks.

Health screenings are a key component of secondary prevention with TKF volunteers setting up at health fairs, churches and community gatherings across the region. After completing an intake form, individuals move to the next station for a blood pressure check and height and weight measurements. Next, participants stop at the urinalysis station. "We have a dipstick testing machine that tells us in about 30 seconds if someone has normal, abnormal, or very abnormal urinalysis results," explained. Powell.

The last station is a one-on-one conversation with a physician or nurse to discuss results and holistic measures to maintain or improve kidney health. Powell said about 20 percent of people who go through TKF screenings have abnormal or very abnormal results. "We're not a referral organization, but we want to make sure you get follow-up care within a certain amount of time," she said, noting the clinicians stress the importance of seeing a primary care physician for additional testing and monitoring.

Primary and secondary prevention are so important, said Powell, because kidney disease rarely makes itself known in the early stages. "It's called the silent disease because it's very asymptomatic. People often don't know they have it until it's too late, and their kidneys are failing," she said, adding 90 percent of people who have kidney disease don't realize it.

For those who have progressed to the point where their kidney disease is evident, Powell said TKD offers a number of supports as part of their tertiary prevention plan, including transportation services. "We actually pay 100 percent of transportation costs for dialysis and transplant patients," she said. "The cost of transportation to get back and forth for those who can't drive themselves is just astronomical."

She added transportation is often the biggest barrier to care for dialysis patients. For someone on hemodialysis, it's pretty standard to have three treatments per week for a total of 12-14 treatments monthly. With an average transportation cost of $10, it quickly adds up ... often to a point that is unsustainable for the patient. "When people can't afford their treatment, what happens is they sacrifice that treatment. Dialysis is life or death. Thinking about someone who doesn't know if they can stay alive because they cant afford to get to their treatment is something we just can't let happen," she stated.

To combat that problem, TKF works with MTA's Access Ride program in Davidson County, buying about 1,500 tickets per month. In surrounding counties, the team works with other solution providers including transport companies. "This year we'll provide about 46,000 trips," Powell said.

TKF also helps address other social needs. With the amount of time required for dialysis, many patients with kidney failure are unable to work full time. The organization has a grant application mechanism to assist with utilities, rent, medication costs or food in emergency situations.

Spring is always a key time to drive awareness about the disease and services offered by TKD. March is Kidney Awareness Month and that leads right into April, which is Organ Donation Month. "The only treatments for kidney failure are dialysis and transplant. Of all the people in the country who need a transplant, 90 percent need kidneys. It's amazing to be able to give the gift of life while you're still living," she said of the unique opportunity to be a kidney donor.

Just as TKD hopes to increase kidney education among individuals, Powell said it's equally important to raise awareness with clinicians. "We'd like for providers who have patients who present with hypertension or diabetes to bring kidney health into the conversation early and often," she said. "Kidney disease - if it's caught early - is maintainable, and prevention is doable. But once you get to kidney failure, there's really no going back."

For Powell, the mission is personal. "My mom was diagnosed with kidney disease over 30 years ago. She's one of those unique people who never progressed to dialysis or transplant," said Powell, noting medication and lifestyle modifications have kept her mother stable. "Now 67 years old, she's atypical ... but that's how I know the importance of these early detection programs. If she hadn't been told of her kidney disease early on, I don't know if we'd still have her today."


WEB:

Tennessee Kidney Foundation

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

Tennessee GOP Looks to Pursue Medicaid Block Grant Funding

Tennessee Republican lawmakers have signaled a move to look toward block grant funding as a way to increase access to care for the state's working poor.

Read More

The 2019 Legislative Agenda

A new governor and many new legislators make 2019 a learning year as the state's top healthcare organizations seek to address a number of old issues and tweak some new solutions unveiled last year.

Read More

Updated Cholesterol Guidelines Take a Personalized Approach

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released updated cholesterol clinical guidelines in November 2018, taking a more nuanced approach to care over a patient's lifetime.

Read More

Sharing Data, Saving Lives

In an increasingly connected medical ecosystem where patient safety, health status improvement, and provider reimbursement are impacted at every point along the continuum, the need to efficiently, securely share data appears to have reached a tipping point.

Read More

New Rules in Heart Disease

A number of guideline changes and updates warrant more education around statin use and blood pressure monitoring, but local cardiologists say the higher standards are a game changer.

Read More

Dr. Ashish Shah: A Heart for Transplant Patients

Dr. Ashish Shah is the driving force behind the growth and innovation at one of the nation's busiest heart transplant programs.

Read More

Heart Monitor

Cardiovascular news of note.

Read More

ECMO Program Thriving at TriStar Centennial

A TriStar Centennial, a team approach is key to hospital's successful ECMO program.

Read More

Alexander Looks for Innovation, Asks Council Fellows for Input

Sen. Lamar Alexander asks stakeholders and future leaders to weigh in on ways to improve health outcomes, lower costs.

Read More

CMS Utilizes Dartboard Approach to Modernizing the Medicare Drug Benefit

Controlling pharmaceutical prices remains a hot topic, judging from the 6,415 comments received in response to the CMS proposed rule: "Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Expenses."

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
Chronic Kidney Disease, CKD, Dialysis, Heather Powell., Kidney Awareness Month, Kidney Disease, Kidney Failure, Organ Donation, Tennessee Kidney Foundation, TKF
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: