(April 13, 2023, New York, NY) —Lilia Cervantes, MD, a healthcare advocate in communities of undocumented immigrants, was the keynote speaker at the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) Spring Clinical Meetings held in Austin, TX from April 11th thru 15th.
Dr. Cervantes is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and is developing equity in dialysis care for communities facing racial and ethnic discrimination. She addressed thousands of professionals and clinicians at NKF’s Annual Spring Clinical Meetings on Wednesday, April 12th.
“I was honored to be a part of this premier event and saw it as an opportunity to speak to dedicated professionals about the importance of advocacy for patients with kidney disease,” Dr. Cervantes said. “My own journey in advocacy was inspired by patients with kidney disease who faced worse outcomes because they lacked access to quality kidney care.”
Dr. Cervantes grew up impoverished with immigrant parents and uses her personal experience to guide her work.
“Racial and ethnic minoritized groups with chronic kidney disease (CKD) face a disproportionate burden of kidney health disparities, many of which are driven by structural racism and the social inequities it perpetuates,” Dr. Cervantes said. “As health professionals, we are witnesses to the link between social challenges and health. Because of this, we have the responsibility to not be bystanders…we can choose advocacy and hope or inaction and despair.”
“According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 out of 7 United States adults, or 37 million people, are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), with as many as 9 in 10 with CKD being unaware of it,” she said. “These numbers are staggering. At the individual level, advocacy is especially pivotal for the patients in front of us; yet, it is vitally important to also challenge established norms at the city or state level to improve health equity through policy change.”
“Over the years NKF has educated and invited tens of thousands of people who interact with patients who have kidney disease with varying expertise including dialysis technicians, social workers, pharmacists, and many more,” she said. “What I value about NKF is how it brings interdisciplinary health professionals together because we all have a role in improving the well-being of patients with kidney disease.”
“When we work in solidarity and in partnership with our patients, we create more meaningful policy change,” Dr. Cervantes said.
NKF Spring Clinical Meetings
For the past 31 years, nephrology healthcare professionals from across the country have come to NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings to learn about the newest developments related to all aspects of nephrology practice; network with colleagues; and present their research findings. The NKF Spring Clinical Meetings are designed for meaningful change in the multidisciplinary healthcare teams’ skills, performance, and patient health outcomes. It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on translating science into practice for the entire healthcare team.
About Kidney Disease
In the United States, more than 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are about four times as likely as White people to have kidney failure. Hispanics experience kidney failure at about double the rate of White people.
NKF Professional Membership
Healthcare professionals can join NKF to receive access to tools and resources for both patients and professionals, discounts on professional education, and access to a network of thousands of individuals who treat patients with kidney disease.
About the National Kidney Foundation
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.