By Christina Autry
This month, the Five Corners District welcomed a new addition to the community that is already helping residents receive the kidney care that they so critically need. DaVita on W. Fuque has become a much more convenient location for patients to access dialysis services than DaVita clinics outside of the Five Corners District.
Convenience is highly important in the world of kidney treatment, as most patients must travel to DaVita three times per week for each of their approximately four-hour dialysis sessions. Transportation was a major roadblock to the elderly, individuals in wheelchairs, blind patients, and those with blood pressure concerns that make travel difficult. The Five Corners clinic earned their Medicaid certification in July, and celebrated their Grand Opening on September 5,th kicking off the beginning of a much-needed resource in the neighborhood.
From social workers, to doctors, nurses, dieticians, to maintenance and front desk staff, DaVita warmly provides for those who for which DaVita is an essential part of their lives. For these dialysis patients who spend roughly twelve hours every week at the clinic, “DaVita has become a second home,” says Debra Brown, Social Worker at DaVita. “We have our morning group, our mid-day group, and our after-work group of patients,” she says. “It becomes a community for some. It’s an outing. We become a family for a lot of people.”
Kidney disease, which prompts the necessity of dialysis, is a problem that affects about one in seven Americans, with 90% of individuals unaware that they have it. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes behind kidney disfunction.* Although obesity is oftentimes tied to diabetes, Debra points out that this is not the only indicator. “We have slim people here who have to have dialysis,” Debra says. “Sometimes it’s just genetic.”
Kidney disease causes toxins to build up in your body, which could lead to serious conditions such as kidney failure, a stroke, or heart attack. Signs that you may have kidney disease are extreme exhaustion, trouble sleeping, swollen feet, ankles or eyes, frequent urination and other symptoms you can find on kidney.org. Individuals with any of these symptoms are strongly encouraged to request a blood test at their doctor’s office.
Patients must maintain their health through dialysis, which DaVita specializes in. The new Five Corners facility contains a large, spacious room with many chairs set up with dialysis equipment and nurse’s stations so that patients are under constant supervision. Natural light, plus a clean, modern environment, and the ability for patients to socialize while receiving treatment help to brighten up a very physically and emotionally challenging circumstance.
“Hemodialysis here at the center cleanses your blood about 12-15%, to keep the toxins from backing up in your system,” says Debra. But she warns that patients must be diligent about sticking to a healthy lifestyle, not relying entirely on dialysis. “15% is not enough to allow you to keep smoking or eating unhealthy foods,” she asserts.
Some patients chose “Peritonial Dialysis,” which can be done at home while sleeping, rather than in the clinic. Patients who go this route are trained, and oftentimes have a partner with them who can assist and monitor them.
“People have trouble accepting this way of life,” explains Debra. “But patients who are noncompliant wind up in the emergency room constantly. Diabetic patients wind up with neuropathy that leads to amputation or blindness,” she says. It is crucial for individuals with health concerns to diligently pursue the treatment and lifestyle changes that they need.
Debra is part of the solution to help patients through the struggle, and lifestyle changes involved with kidney disease. “My role is to back up the dieticians, nurses, and doctors. I am the reinforcer. I find out why patients aren’t following their diets, evaluate mental issues, financial and other problems, and connect them with the resources they need.” Debra helps provide the bridge between patients who are not following their diets and the nutritious food that they might not be able to afford. “Sometimes they’re ashamed to ask for help, but we get right to work when we see their needs,” she says.
“I would love to work myself out of a job. I want a world without a need for dialysis,” she comments. “Our society, and our schools need a greater amount of health education to help prevent these problems.”
Debra’s knowledge and experience has inspired her own passion for maintaining a strict, healthy diet. “If you look in my freezer, you’ll see all my foods measured out in specific portions, cooked and frozen. Meat, veggies, and salads are what I primarily eat every day.” Debra has been dedicated to this diet for the past nine months and is still going strong. “It’s not easy, but you have to make up your mind and choose to be healthy.”
4751 W Fuqua, Houston TX 77045
Branch Phone: 713.413.9102
Customer Care: 1.800.400.8331