By Kevin Longino, CEO of National Kidney Foundation and kidney transplant patient
With each new week during the COVID-19 crisis we all find ourselves dealing with new challenges and some unusual opportunities. So, first some challenges.
Dialysis, moving to home
Our patients are rightly concerned about how this health crisis affects them. Some of the questions we’re receiving from patients and care partners are related to dialysis and the fears of continuing in-center despite precautions the centers are taking to keep them safe. We are still working hard to ensure safety at in-center facilities and advocating for all kidney healthcare professionals to have the personal protective equipment necessary to keep themselves and our patients safe. But, NKF believes that all patients need immediate increased options to train for home dialysis. Dialysis patients who typically receive their treatment in-center are at increased risk of COVID-19 and its complications. We are working to remove the policy and regulatory barriers that prevent patients from safely fast-tracking to home dialysis and are urging Congress to act quickly. You can take action right now to ensure your Members of Congress understand that it’s a priority to give patients the option to dialyze at home.
Transplants, still safe?
We are also hearing from our transplant patients who are asking if kidney patients can still pursue a transplant, if it’s safe for a living donor, or if you can receive a transplant from someone who was infected with coronavirus. We have developed a new resource on this topic, Transplant and Coronavirus, and it addresses these very questions. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, transplants are considered essential surgeries and can proceed during this COVID-19 crisis.
New patient resources
NKF just developed a set of new COVID-19 resources which includes everything from general information on how coronavirus affects kidney patients, changing medications, coping and support, to tips for safely ordering takeout and sticking to a kidney-friendly diet; you can find these at kidney.org/coronavirus.
Creativity and commitment meet opportunity
This year we’re holding our annual Spring Clinical Meetings as a live-virtual event instead of the in-person gathering that brings together thousands of nephrology healthcare professionals all under one roof. Now I understand that many organizations throughout the nation have made this transition too, and it is a great way for us (and everyone) to learn how to deliver top notch education in a live-virtual format. But the unusual opportunity comes here: as part of this year’s gathering we were going to bring ten winners of the KidneyX: Patient Innovator Challenge, funded by NKF prize to New Orleans to interact directly with our conference attendees and explain their winning ideas and innovations on how to improve therapeutic options and quality of life for people living with kidney disease. Well, in-person clearly didn’t happen, so instead we invited these ten winners to film their own one-minute smart phone video explaining what their innovation is and how it helps patients.
People who never do this kind of thing—regular patients, care partners, healthcare professionals and a few seasoned execs—created fantastic videos that are not only inspiring for where the future of innovation can bring us, but timely. And instead of showcasing these winners to a few thousand people, thanks to social media and our live-virtual format, we can showcase them to the world. I urge you to take ten minutes today to view these one-minute, videos; it’s a good break from the non-stop coronavirus coverage and a chance to see what can happen when creativity and commitment meet opportunity.
A new respect for lace-ups
Finally, sharing a quirky thing I discovered this week, a new-found respect for lace-ups. Because of my immunosuppression, we don't wear “outside shoes” inside the house. But for some reason, I can't seem to concentrate well with slippers or sock feet. So, I bought some sneakers online and those are my work shoes. And I bought lace-ups because there is something about lacing up shoes that says okay, ready for work now. Lace-ups are the ticket. Loafers might as well be slippers and I am either too old, or too young, for Velcro.
So put your lace-ups on, stay home to work if you can, and as always if you have questions or need support, please contact our toll free patient information help line by calling (855) NKF-CARES, (1-855-653-2273) or by email email@example.com. And please join our free online discussion forums.