Mr. Randal Beatty, University Kidney Center Hikes Lane
In April 2010, Randal Beatty was diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD). The diagnosis came as a surprise, and, Mr. Beatty admits, he kept praying for a miracle.
“I heard all those stories about how people feel during dialysis and I didn’t want to deal with it,” said Mr. Beatty. “I didn’t want to lose my freedom and I certainly didn’t want to feel sick all the time.”
So for three years, he waited, hoping to find his miracle. But by August 2013, he knew he waited too long.
“Before my first dialysis treatment, I could feel myself pulling away from everyone, especially my family. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and I was sick all the time. I realized at that point that how I was feeling was exactly what I wanted to avoid.”
He began his in-center dialysis treatments with American Renal Associates (ARA) at University Kidney Center in Louisville, Kentucky in August 2013 and transferred to another local ARA facility – University Kidney Center Hikes Lane – in May 2014 since it was closer to his home.
“In a short time, dialysis completely changed me,” he said. His health improved, along with his confidence, encouraging him to start driving himself to and from treatments. Not only did this give him a renewed feeling of independence, but a strong sense of accomplishment, as well.
Now 67 years old, Mr. Beatty says he can do everything he did before, including keeping up with his two granddaughters, playing basketball, among other hobbies, and going on family vacations. In fact, with the help of ARA’s Travel Department, Mr. Beatty can travel stress free. Though he admits traveling while on dialysis can be intimidating, he explained, “All I had to do was show up. ARA’s Travel Team took care of everything.”
Receiving a diagnosis of ESRD can be challenging, but Mr. Beatty’s advice is to take a step back and see dialysis as the miracle it is.
“It took me three years to realize that dialysis was the miracle I was waiting for. I was an extremely sick individual and just a few months on dialysis completely changed me. I don’t know why I waited as long as I did. I could have been enjoying life for the last few years rather than staying home sick. And I honestly haven’t been sick since I started my dialysis treatments!”
(callout) “You’ll never find the quality of care that you get at an ARA facility. The staff always have your best interest at heart and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and help however they can. The truth is, I consider them my extended family!”
A patient’s transformation at DeSoto Regional Dialysis Center
A female patient in her mid-50s was brought into DeSoto Regional Dialysis Center to begin her admission process. Ms. Patricia Garcia was wheelchair-bound, weak and very sick, diagnosed with both ESRD and end stage liver disease. Many facilities would have turned her away as a lost cause.
But not Clinic Manager Elizabeth Gomez, the clinic staff at DeSoto Regional Dialysis Center and Ms. Garcia’s nephrologist. They did everything they could for Patricia, including inspiring hope; they set a goal to get her healthy enough to survive when she received her transplant.
Not “if,” but “when.”
This dedication to patient care is seen clearly within the Dallas Nephrology Associates (DNA), one of the largest groups of practicing nephrologists in the country and the group that owns DeSoto Regional Dialysis Center in a partnership with ARA. DNA is focused on providing the best possible personalized care for each patient. And this is why a partnership with ARA made sense.
According to Gomez, “It’s a team effort. The patients have things they have to do and [there are] things we have to do, but together, we can make a difference.”
With regular dialysis treatments, Patricia did feel better – she engaged in conversation and wore makeup again. And she continued to improve. Her albumin level (a measure of the most common protein found in the blood), for example, increased from a 2.8 when she first arrived to a 3.4. The ARA care team was witnessing a true transformation, which positioned Patricia to become eligible for both a kidney and liver transplant.
Then Patricia got the call: she would receive the transplants she needed.
Patricia came back to the facility one week after her transplant to thank the staff for their help and support. When she was greeted outside by the DeSoto staff and offered a wheelchair, Patricia said, “No. Watch what I can do.” She stood up and walked into the facility, ahead of the staff who greeted her.
A few months later, Patricia returned, once again to express her gratitude. She walked into the facility dressed to the nines, wearing heeled boots. No longer did she look like a sick patient, but a dashing businesswoman, one who also looked 10 years younger than the first time she walked through the facility’s doors.
Throughout it all, Patricia’s husband fought for her to receive the best possible care, and listened closely to everything the staff at DeSoto suggested. The doctors at UT Southwestern frequently informed him of a competitor’s facility that was closer to the hospital to try to make the back-and-forth trips easier on him.
He wouldn’t budge. The staff at DeSoto recall him summarizing these discussions, stating that his response to the hospital was, “We’re staying over there with the DeSoto team. They know what they’re doing. They take good care of us.”
Mr. John Baguchinsky, ARA-Naples South Dialysis Center
John Baguchinsky has been a dialysis patient for eight years, and he admits the first year was incredibly hard. Initially starting treatments at a facility (which is no longer in operation) that required a more than 50-mile round trip, he found himself frustrated and sick.
“I felt like no one was really listening to me,” said Mr. Baguchinsky. “I started with Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) treatments then switched to in-center hemodialysis, but regardless of the modality, I found dialysis to be painful. I dreaded treatments.”
One day, he drove past the sign for ARA-Naples South Dialysis Center in Naples, FL and decided to take a look. He was greeted by the staff as soon as he walked in and was given a tour of the facility. In those few minutes, Mr. Baguchinsky realized dialysis doesn’t have to be scary. He transferred to Naples South in 2012.
“I could see and feel the difference in patient care immediately. Dialysis can be intimidating for a lot of people, but when you have well trained staff who really care for their patients, like the group at Naples South, it makes a huge difference, both physically and psychologically,” he said.
This is seen in everything the staff does for their patients. Mr. Baguchinsky explained that, as a one-car household, he needs to drive his wife to and from work. This created a challenge regarding his availability for treatment. So, the staff created a treatment schedule for him that aligned with his daily schedule to ensure making it to treatment wouldn’t be a problem.
“They really go out of their way to make your dialysis experience better. One simple change – like adjusting the size of the needle they used – significantly reduced the pain I previously felt. And even the nephrologists stop and listen. You’re not just a checkmark on their to-do list; they actually sit with you, answer your questions and give you advice. I can’t say enough about ARA and how the facility is run.”
Now almost 70 years old, he says his experience at Naples South has changed his view of dialysis.
“You drive by all these dialysis facilities in Florida and see all these signs and think they’re all the same. But the truth is they’re not. Whenever I see a new person at Naples South, I tell them ‘Stop shopping. This is the place to be.’”
UPDATE: In March 2017, Mr. Baguchinsky received a kidney transplant. He said, “The folks at ARA kept me alive to get this new chance on life, and it means so much to me, my friends and my family. And the whole team has been sending me cards and letters; they really care about each of their patients.”
Ms. Sheryll Wyman, Kidney Center of the Rockies
Sheryll Wyman was 65 years old when she was diagnosed with kidney disease as a result of high blood pressure. She worked closely with her nephrologist to manage it, but six years later at the age of 71, she needed to start dialysis.
She decided to pursue Peritoneal Dialysis (PD), which allowed her to continue to take her dog for walks and occasionally play golf. In the summer of 2016, however, she suffered a seizure that required her to change modalities. She began in-center hemodialysis shortly thereafter.
A resident of one of the ski areas in Colorado near Vail Valley, the beautiful terrain, combined with the unpredictable weather, presented a unique challenge. The closest dialysis center for Ms. Wyman to receive her treatment was in Denver, CO, a commute that varied from 90-minutes to 2-hours one way. And with bad weather, it was easy to get stuck. The four-hour treatment and up to four hours spent in the car to get to and from treatment three times per week became too much.
“Going to my dialysis treatments required an entire day,” said Ms. Wyman. “My husband drives me to and from every treatment, and the days were just too long for both of us.”
In late 2016, she heard about a new facility opening in Avon, CO. The Kidney Center of the Rockies opened in January 2017 and she transferred immediately. She was the first patient admitted to the new facility.
Ms. Wyman admits that the dialysis treatments haven’t been a challenge; instead, it’s the changes that accompany it.
“I’m supposed to eat 80 grams of protein and that’s a lot, especially since my cooking leaves much to be desired,” she said. “But I meet with the dietitian and she helps me find ways to stick to a renal-friendly diet. She actually told me about a protein-rich Jell-O which I really enjoy.”
Dialysis is a life change that impacts your entire routine, from how you spend your time each day to your diet to your hobbies. It hasn’t stopped Ms. Wyman from staying active, though, both mentally and physically. She still goes shopping, stays active through physical therapy sessions and, as an avid reader, keeps her mind sharp. She visits her library a few times each month to select a variety of books from the “new arrivals” section, and she reads them all.
“I’ve been really happy since moving to the Kidney Center of the Rockies,” said Ms. Wyman. “The staff are great; they’re easy to talk to. And it’s a really nice facility. I have a mountain view right from my treatment chair and my commute is so much better. I actually have time to enjoy being home again.”