BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Hundreds of thousands of people in America suffer with kidney disease or potential kidney failure, but for years now there has been a solution – a gift from medicine and research – dialysis. If your doctor says you’re nearing stage 5 kidney disease and you need to start thinking about a transplant or dialysis treatment options soon, it’s completely understandable to wonder what lies ahead. The best thing you can do at first, is to educate yourself and speak with your doctor about kidney dialysis.
Dialysis uses a special fluid that contains a mixture of pure water and chemicals to carefully pull waste, salt, and extra water out of your blood without removing substances the body needs. In turn, you’ll be able to keep safer levels of certain chemicals in the bloodstream, including potassium.
There are two main types of kidney dialysis—hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdominal cavity, called the peritoneal membrane, to naturally filter fluid and waste from the blood. HD uses a filter outside of your body called a dialyzer. With help from the dialysis machine, blood flows from the body, into the filter where waste and fluid are removed, and then back into your body. There are three common forms of HD: in the comfort of your own home, in a dialysis center with other people, and in a center that offers nocturnal dialysis, which is performed while you sleep.
You’re not alone if you’re feeling worried about starting renal dialysis and wondering how it will affect your life, but a great way to combat your fear of the unknown is to proactively learn as much as you can about dialysis.
Here in Mena, we are fortunate to have a DaVita Dialysis Center. DaVita Inc. is a fortune 500 company and a leading provider of kidney care in the United States. DaVita provides over 2,000 outpatient dialysis facilities in the U.S., serving approximately 131,000 patients.
The DaVita Center in Mena has been in operation since 2007 and is presently managed by Ashley Knittig, who was born in Dallas but raised here in Mena. She attended Eastfield College in Dallas, and later Carl Albert’s State College in Oklahoma for her Nursing degree. The company was pleased that Knittig had not only the RN qualifications but the business acumen as well, and she was hired on August 19, of this year.
Knittig explained that presently the company offers only in-center hemodialysis, but they are actively pursuing the ability to offer home hemodialysis and peritoneal hemodialysis as well.
“We are in the process of getting our clinic certified for these services,” Knittig said. “We are also in the process of providing our company more exposure, so that people in this area know they have options. But our first priority is and has always been, caring for our customers. We have patient care technicians, LPNS, RNs, dietitians, and social workers to serve our customers, and we have an excellent medical director (Dr. Robert McCrary). We are a world-wide company and our goal is to give quality individualized care, making sure our patients get all of their needs met here, as well as outside our offices.
“We are an all-encompassing organization, dealing with emotional, physical, and financial burdens with our specialized ‘teammates’,” Knittig continued. “We look at ourselves as teammates – individuals that are all a part of the same village, with a goal to be the provider, partner, and employer of choice.”
Knittig added that once you’ve begun the process of dialysis you’ll feel more in control of your situation and will have a better idea how to maintain a rich, meaningful life again.
It may take you some time—perhaps a few weeks—to adjust to life on renal dialysis. But once you get used to the routine, you’ll most likely begin to feel much better physically and emotionally. That’s the miracle of dialysis.
The DaVita offices in Mena are located at 1200 Crestwood Circle, adjacent to The Mena Regional Health System. The phone number for Davita Dialysis is 479-394-8085.