Why I Walk – Joe Turk, Boston Kidney Walk Executive Champion

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My career in kidney care began almost 20 years ago. I joined a startup called NxStage Medical as one of the earliest members of the team. I was excited about the opportunity to do great things for patients and to do our part to change the world. Nineteen years later, NxStage merged with Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), making home dialysis more widely available to people across the U.S. and the world.

Boston is a hub of medical innovation, but to me, NxStage and its focus on home dialysis was special even in this arena. While dialysis had up to that point undoubtedly saved lives, there was so much room to improve health and quality of life to allow a person to live the life they might have imagined for themselves before needing dialysis treatment.

I soon found I was driven by the desire to make the greatest difference I could in the lives of the people who inspired me to come to work every day: our patients. Home dialysis, enabling people to take control of their own care in a familiar setting, turned out to be the way forward. I see it in the faces of our patients who go home with the NxStage machine. Suddenly, they feel motivated, empowered, and ready to take on challenges that they may have written off as impossible.

There are nearly half a million people in the U.S. on dialysis treatment. At FMCNA, we have the opportunity to work with hundreds of thousands of people living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). More than 25,000 of our patients are able to administer their dialysis at home, and that figure continues to grow as our company works to educate patients, physicians, and the general public about the difference that home dialysis can make for patients’ health and quality of life.

Each year that I have walked at the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walk, I have felt the power of being surrounded by people who have imagined more for themselves. I enjoy seeing them share their stories and all of the things they have been able to do and the places they have been able to go. It is seeing these individuals thriving with kidney disease and raising awareness that has continued to inspire me to return to work on Monday ready to tackle fresh tasks, find new answers to old challenges, and see a different future for CKD treatment.

When people say ‘You gave me my life back,’ it never gets old, whether it be when we first started with our clinical trial patients or the notes and calls that still come in to this day.

This year I am honored to be the Executive Champion for the Boston Kidney Walk, to be surrounded by the people who have inspired me for 20 years to push myself in a career that has brought me so much joy, knowing that each time my team experiences a success, our patients do too.

 

Why I Walk: Kristy-An Ferracci

 

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Kristy-An Ferracci is not only a kidney donor, she works every day helping people living with kidney failure as a patient care technician for Fresenius Kidney Care. She is one of the most successful National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk fundraisers in the country. As chair of the Southern Delaware Kidney Walk, the Southern Delaware team raised over $11,000 last year under her leadership.

“I’m motivated by my desire to raise awareness for people living with kidney disease,” said Kristy-An. “I want everyone to know that there are great treatments and options that can help people thrive and accomplish their goals for their health and beyond.”

Kristy-An and her husband, Michael, walk together each year. In good health after receiving a kidney from Kristy-An, Michael recently returned to school to study for his master’s degree in social work, planning to eventually work with people who have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Michael, like his father, received dialysis treatment when his kidneys failed. When Michael was on dialysis, it was the support of his care team and his soon-to-be wife that helped him stay strong.

Kristy-An and Michael were married in September 2006. By the new year, Kristy-An had undergone testing and found herself to be a donor match for Michael. Six months later, on World Kidney Day in March 2007, the newlyweds underwent surgery to remove one of Kristy-An’s two healthy kidneys and transplant it to her husband.

This year, as Kristy-An began fundraising, she celebrated the twelfth anniversary of her husband’s transplant, a moment that inspires her each year to dig in, give back and walk.

“The strength he had while receiving dialysis treatment and awaiting a transplant, and the strength I see in all of my patients, makes me want to show my support. That’s why I walk,” she said.

The company that Kristy-An works for, Fresenius Kidney Care, is part of Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), which serves as National Presenting Sponsor for the National Kidney Foundation’s 2019 Kidney Walks, and regularly rallies employees and their families to walk in support of people impacted by kidney disease. In 2018, FMCNA’s corporate contribution, combined with donations raised by FMCNA employees and their families, totaled more than $800,000.

Find a Kidney Walk in your area and register today at www.KidneyWalk.org!

Why I Walk

By Frank W. Maddux, MD, FACP
Chief Medical Officer
Executive Vice President for Clinical and Scientific Affairs
Fresenius Medical Care North America
Executive Champion, Boston NKF Kidney Walk

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Creating opportunities to help patients thrive is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role at Fresenius Medical Care North America. It’s also one of the reasons I get so energized to be part of the annual National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walks.

The Kidney Walks are one of the many ways we stand by all patients and their families. Extending ourselves beyond the walls of our clinics and offices—and into the many neighborhoods and communities, we’re proud to be a part of—deepens our understanding of how CKD affects lives and how we as a healthcare company can fight this epidemic on multiple levels.

I’m honored to serve as an executive champion for the Boston NKF Kidney Walk, one of nearly 90 walks across the United States presented by the NKF and sponsored by Fresenius Medical Care. Fresenius Medical Care and NKF share the same passion and commitment to improving the lives of people with kidney disease; in fact, giving back to the community is part of our company’s DNA. Nearly a decade ago, we embarked on our partnership with the National Kidney Foundation knowing that together we would support our goal of improving the quality of life of every patient every day. This year we’ve combined the power of our 67,000-strong employee family, spanning 2,400 dialysis care facilities across the United States, contributing more than $750,000 to fight kidney disease – a pledge that has increased three-fold from 2017.

Fighting an epidemic requires both advocacy and action. With 1 in 7 Americans affected by kidney disease–and with 10 percent of the world’s population affected by CKD, and millions more unaware they have the disease—the amount of kidney-disease focused clinical research is less than what you’d expect for a disease long recognized as a public health condition. By joining patients and their caregivers at walks throughout the country, we help shine a light on CKD to help grow public understanding and awareness around the urgency of this disease.

Getting involved is easy: all it takes is a few clicks and a commitment to walk. Click here to find a Kidney Walk near you and get involved either by joining a team or creating one of your own. If you’re near Boston, please consider joining me for the Boston area Kidney Walk on Sunday, October 14, at North Point Park in Cambridge, MA.

I’m grateful to the NKF and my fellow walkers: medical professionals, patients, their caregivers, their families and the kidney community as a whole. I’m humbled to be part of a community that sets the example for what it means to be patient-centered. We not only stand with kidney disease patients and their families, we walk with them, at their side.

Kidney Walk, Like the Disease, is a Family Affair

Vedamay Bradford, RN, BHA, MBA
Director of Operations for the West Los Angeles area, Fresenius Kidney Care
Team captain for the Los Angeles Kidney Walk

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Kidney disease doesn’t just affect patients. It affects their entire family. I know. When my dad was diagnosed with kidney disease two and a half years ago, it was an adjustment for all of us. That’s why I’m proud to lead the Fresenius Kidney Care team at the Los Angeles Kidney Walk on October 14, where I’ll be joined by my fiancée, my son, and my sister and her family.

My dad has had high blood pressure for as long as I can remember, and in a family full of medical experts – my mom, sister and I all started our careers as nurses – it was easy for him to think we were being overprotective when we kept repeating that he needed to take care of himself. After all, he didn’t feel any different, so he figured there was nothing to worry about.

Symptoms of kidney disease often go undetected, which is why it’s critical to get screened regularly if you’re at risk. Getting started on an effective treatment plan as soon as possible helps preserve kidney function and may prevent kidney disease or slow its progression.

One day, my dad was unable to urinate. His doctors first thought it was due to his prostate, but when his problems persisted, he was screened for kidney disease and told he needed to start dialysis.

Being a caregiver myself, I can appreciate what families go through when their loved one comes to us for dialysis treatment. Adherence to the kidney diet can be challenging, and in our house, the whole family changed their eating patterns to make this lifestyle transition easier for my dad.

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The Kidney Walks help raise awareness – and most importantly, funds – to help in the fight against kidney disease. There is not enough public awareness and education about how kidney disease can manifest in a person. As I learned with my dad, it can happen to any family.

Thirty million people in the United States are currently living with chronic kidney disease, and many of them are thriving. The commitment of the National Kidney Foundation to fund research and raise awareness has been essential to ensuring the advancement of treatments and improved longevity and quality of life for patients. The more money we raise through walks like these, the more we can help the National Kidney Foundation achieve its mission of improving the lives of people with chronic kidney disease everywhere.

I hope you’ll join me.

Meet Our Inaugural Kidney Walk National Corporate Chair: Bill Valle

With the Fall season right around the corner, the 2018 Kidney Walks are off to a great start! In the spring, more than 30,000 participants laced up their shoes to walk for and with the kidney community.

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Additionally, Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), stepped up as the first ever National Corporate Chair for the 2018 Kidney Walk season.

The 2017 Kidney Walk season was the first year FMCNA participated as a National Team and more than 3,700 of their employees came together to walk and raise over $280,000 for the kidney community. In 2018, FMCNA and Bill wanted to do more! We are very grateful to have Bill’s leadership and focus steering the effort for the NKF Walks this year.

Through the Kidney Walk, Bill is focused on growing and strengthening national recognition and increased financial support to fight kidney disease and increase awareness for organ donation across the kidney community.

“We are proud of our longstanding relationship with the National Kidney Foundation,” said Bill Valle, Chief Executive Officer of Fresenius Medical Care North America “We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support our employees demonstrated through the 2017 Walks, but certainly not surprised. We see how our team members go above and beyond for every patient every day and look forward to helping even more people affected by kidney disease through our partnership this year.”

Bill participated in the Atlanta Kidney Walk this spring and he’ll be out walking with many of you this fall! Be sure to say hello while you are on your own walk.

Kidney Walk National Corporate Partners Make a Difference in the Fight Against Kidney Disease

This spring, National Kidney Foundation welcomed ten National Corporate Partners to the Kidney Walk. What is a corporate partner? A company that supports the Kidney Walk from a national level by rallying employees to participate and by sponsoring multiple Walks throughout the year. These partners have shown up to walk with and for the kidney community, and they have stepped up in many other important and creative ways. Here are a few highlights.

Fresenius Medical Care North America’s Support Starts with Executive Leadership

Fresenius Medical Care North America is the 2018 Kidney Walk National Presenting Sponsor and the largest national team ever! That’s thanks to incredible leadership and support from Fresenius CEO Bill Valle. In this role, Mr. Valle, who is also the inaugural National Corporate Chair for the 2018 Walk season, is rallying the business community to lace up their shoes for their local Kidney Walks. He’s also dedicated to raising important awareness for the fight against kidney disease.

Bill Valle teamed up with NKF’s CEO, Kevin Longino, to film a video series about many important topics, including kidney disease and transplantation, what it means to be a corporate partner and a special message to all FMCNA employees to get them excited and proud to walk. Watch two of the videos here:

Relypsa’s Commitment to Kidney Patients Reaches New Heights – and Countries

2018 is Relypsa’s second year as a Kidney Walk National Partner, and their team has already surpassed their 2017 fundraising total! Relypsa’s leaders continue to deepen their commitment to supporting kidney patients. CEO Scott Garland served as the 2018 Silicon Valley Kidney Walk Chair, and VP of Marketing Todd Ungard led the Walk’s Executive Leadership Committee and has recently joined NKF as a board member in California.

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Taking it to another level – and continent – Relypsa’s parent company, Vifor Pharma, was so inspired by Relypsa’s National Partnership that they joined in on the fun! Vifor Pharma formed the first international Kidney Walk team at their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. 110 staff members gathered for a Kidney Walk-inspired day which included kidney education seminars, a staff lunch and, of course, a walk.

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LogistiCare’s Focus on Volunteerism

LogistiCare is a longtime Kidney Walk National Team but that hasn’t stopped them from upping their game! In 2018, LogistiCare became a National Multi-Market Sponsor, too. They kicked off their efforts by hosting the first official LogistiCare Service Day at their corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, that included an NKF Drive for Dialysis program. LogistiCare employees came together to assemble care packages for dialysis patients to brighten their spirits and make the long hours of treatment a little more bearable. More than 500 care packages were handed out at local dialysis centers. What a fantastic way to kick off another great year of partnership!

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The stories of our National Partners’ dedication and creativity are endless. We are grateful for their continued support for improving the lives of kidney patients in their local communities. Thank you!

If your company is interested in learning more about Kidney Walk National Partnership opportunities, please reach out to Krystn Kuckelman at krystn.kuckelman@kidney.org.

Why We Walk – LogistiCare

The fight against kidney disease is something we at LogistiCare take personally.

With 1 in 3 Americans at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) we know that with 4,000 LogistiCare employees nationwide, a large number of our employees and their families will be affected.

In 2017 we provided more than 65 million non-emergency medical trips nationwide – with dialysis patients receiving a large percentage of those trips.

That is why LogistiCare shares a longstanding commitment to the mission to educate, participate, and fundraise with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Our participation and fundraising allows NKF to accelerate their mission and provide high-quality education, programs, and services to individuals affected by kidney disease. This year, LogistiCare expanded the commitment to provide monetary support and additional benefits to patients suffering from kidney disease by becoming a National Multi-Market sponsor of more than two dozen Kidney Walks. Part of that commitment means donations and fundraising – approximately 2,300 LogistiCare employees raised and donated more than $155,000 in 2017 – and we have a goal to raise $165,000 in 2018.

But it’s much more personal with us.

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As part of our commitment to NKF and those affected by kidney disease, we continuously find ways to educate, participate and fundraise. In late 2017 the Atlanta team conducted its first official LogistiCare Service Day focusing on organizations, doctors, and patients fighting kidney disease. Our CEO, Jeff Felton, kicked off the day speaking of the need for each of us to see beyond the service we provide to our members to understand what they experience on the other side of that service because at LogistiCare every member and every ride matters.

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As a Presenting Sponsor of the NKF Phoenix Kidney Walk on April 8th, our Phoenix team and their families and friends came out on a beautiful day and walked. It was an amazing event. We walked eight laps to complete a 5k inside Chase Stadium.

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Before the walk even started there was so much energy throughout the event. There were all kinds of booths and fun activities for the crowd to engage in.

There were mascots posing with the crowd,

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Zumba exercises to get everyone warmed up and ready to walk,

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teams dressed in matching outfits,

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and best of all, teams of people telling their personal stories of why they walk, including some from our very own. Here are just a few of them:

Brissa Ruiz (Lowe) is a Quality Assurance Specialist in our Phoenix Operations. At age 21 Brissa was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1. Because she was young, like many of us have done, she felt invincible and thought nothing of it. At age 28 that came to an abrupt stop when she had a heart attack due to high blood sugars caused by poor management of her diabetes. She knew she needed to take her health more seriously. She now uses an insulin pump to manage her blood sugars, and she gets tested annually to keep a close watch on her albumin levels and GFR percentage. Kidney disease is a major concern in her life. Brissa believes it’s important to increase awareness, educate friends, family, and others on the important role our kidneys play in our health. This is why Brissa walks.

There are no early detection signs for kidney disease but there are two simple tests you can ask of your doctor: a urine test called ACR “albumin-to-creatinine ratio”, and a blood test to estimate your GFR “glomerular filtration rate.

Kristina Eshenbaugh is a Job Coach in our Phoenix Operations. Kristina’s mom, Janet Eshenbaugh, has been diabetic since Kristina was a kid. Her diabetes had been so bad that Janet had to have both legs amputated. So in 2015, when the family found out that Janet’s diabetes had also impacted her kidneys, they were understandably distraught. Janet has been on dialysis ever since. She travels almost 30 miles one way, three times each week, transferring herself in and out of their truck into her wheelchair to make her dialysis appointments. Janet hopes to qualify to be on the waiting list for a new kidney. Kristina considers her mom her best friend and her hero. This is why Kristina walks.

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney disease. About a third of people with diabetes develop kidney disease.

Lyanna Garcia is a Facilities Coordinator in our Phoenix Operations.  Lyanna has had Type 1 Diabetes since she was eight years old.  Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was often hospitalized from her illness.  As a teenager she had difficulty accepting her illness and felt it was very unfair, so she was careless with her disease.  But while spending time in the hospital she developed close relationships with some social workers that helped her better understand how important it is for her to take care of her health.  It was a scary time as a child to face such serious issues.  Now as an adult she understands the importance of taking care of her health to better prolong her life.  She realizes that she may one day need a transplant but through education, she is more aware of what is needed and how to go through the process.  Lyanna first learned about the NKF Kidney Walk program when she came to work with LogistiCare and has been participating in the Kidney Walks since 2012.  It’s important to her to bring awareness to young people and their families of the importance of self-care.  This is why Lyanna walks.

Six-step guide to protecting kidney health.

Jason Hoover is a California Claims Specialist in our Phoenix Operations. Hereditary kidney disease has affected Jason since the young age of nine or ten years old. At the time, his disease went undiagnosed. It wasn’t until he was 12, on a 1986 trip to Disneyland with his favorite aunt (Aunt Vikki), that he learned he had kidney disease. And it was just before his 13th birthday, he had his left kidney removed. Jason experienced a lot of pain associated with his kidney disease during his visit with Aunt Vikki. In 2011 at 2:30am his Aunt Vikki donated one of her kidneys to a complete stranger. She said she did it because of what she saw Jason go through that summer in 1986. Jason is proud of his aunt and all the survivors of kidney disease. This is why Jason walks.

Whether you need a kidney or are considering donation, the National Kidney Foundation’s “The Big Ask, The Big Give” can help start the conversation.

Kimberly Vasquez is an Administrative Assistant in our Phoenix Operations. Kim’s nephew, Joey, was diagnosed with Hydronephrosis at only one year old. He spent most of his childhood in and out of hospitals, treated with medications and on a special diet to keep his kidneys from failing. When Joey was 13 years old he received a kidney transplant from his mother, Kim’s sister-in-law, Saphiria. Saphiria gave the ultimate gift by becoming a living donor for her son. Early on, because of Joey’s age, all his related medical bills and medications were covered 100%, however as an adult, married with a child, Joey faced many challenges regarding affording insurance to cover the medications he needs to take for the rest of his life. For Kim, involvement with the Kidney Walk started out as a work event but has become so much more to her and her family. Sharing their story opened up doors to resources where Joey is able to receive his medication and assistance with affordable insurance. Kim is compelled to create awareness so that those that have loved ones facing this disease can have hope. This is why Kim walks.

The family shared their experiences with all the walkers and attendees at the National Kidney Foundation Phoenix Kidney Walk on April 8, 2018. Their story was so inspiring it was picked up by Phoenix Fox 10 News and aired throughout the day and early the following morning. The Peoria Times published a story on this incredible family the following week.LogistiCare 10

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These are the reasons we share a commitment with NKF to those with kidney disease and to educate others of the risks of CKD. Not just those personally affected and mentioned here, but all of us at LogistiCare. This is Why We Walk.

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Find your local LogistiCare Walk Team to register or donate.