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

FRANK MADDUX MD FACP

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.

Advertisements

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

Vedamay photo blog

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.

Vedamay photo blog 2

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.

Bill Valle Head Shot

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.

2018 Relypsa Walk Photo 2

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.

Team Zurich

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!

IMG_4026

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.

LogistiCare 1

LogistiCare 2

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.

LogistiCare 3

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.

LogistiCare 4.jpg

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,

LogistiCare 5LogistiCare 6

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

LogistiCare 7.jpg

teams dressed in matching outfits,

LogistiCare 8LogistiCare 9

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

LogistiCare 11

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.

LogistiCare 12.jpg

Find your local LogistiCare Walk Team to register or donate.

Navigating CKD: Life in the driver’s seat

By Kathy Hoyer, Territory Director, Satellite Healthcare

Whether it’s chauffeuring his wife Claudia around their San Jose hometown, or managing his Chronic Kidney disease, John Unger likes to be in control.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he likes to speed; in fact, he is cautious and thoughtful about both. But it’s clear that the 74-year-old isn’t letting health limitations slow him down.

That goes for behind the wheel or on foot. Unger has made it a hobby to participate in National Kidney Foundation fundraising walks almost every year since his diagnosis nearly 20 years ago along with other health awareness walks.

“I don’t even remember the first one I did,” he says of his walks. “It was for a very small organization.” He was accompanied by one of his daughters, Andrea Hensler, adding another aspect to his regimen of good health: He keeps his family involved.

Unger has been on dialysis at Satellite Healthcare since 2015. But even that hasn’t keep him from his beloved walks.

“Last year my nurse made me bring a wheelchair, and she walked with me,” Unger says. “I ended up pushing the wheelchair the whole time.”

Satellite at the Kidney Walk

John Unger, Kathy Hoyer and Gilda Jones, along with other team member from Satellite, at last year’s San Jose Kidney Walk

Satellite dialysis nurse and center manager Gilda Jones is Unger’s biggest fan. “He never complains and is a delight to care for,” Jones says.

After Unger was diagnosed with CKD, he put off dialysis as long as he could, controlling his disease with a healthy lifestyle. But back in 2015 it became apparent that he needed dialysis.

“It’s just a part of life,” he says. “I try to stay as positive as I can.”

Jones says that his positive attitude helps in his recovery.

Dialysis has helped, too. “I am much healthier now than I was the year before I started dialysis,” Unger says. “Before I started dialysis I was weak and cold all the time. I knew it was time to take the next step for my health.”

However, he has no plans to take further steps, and has not registered for the national kidney transplant list. “Because I was 72 when I started dialysis, I felt that I should let someone younger get an available kidney.”

It’s a decision he accepts with grace, and his family understands it, especially wife Claudia. Unger says that she is a major positive in his life. A diabetic and neuropathy sufferer, Claudia does not drive, hence Unger’s job of Chief Driving Officer — another reason he has to stay as healthy as possible. Still, he’s the first one to say that Claudia is the sharper of the two, and frequently “wins” in their loving battle of wits.

“She says I better not get Alzheimer’s Disease because quite honestly, she wouldn’t notice,” he jokes.

Another thing that has helped Unger stay positive in his disease is the mentorship of a family friend, Patti Childress, an account supervisor for the Bay Area American Red Cross. “She’s showed me how someone can live a normal life with our disease,” Unger says.

And a normal life means independence, as much as three-day-a-week dialysis provides. That usually means a day-trip, like the one he recently made to Lodi for a meeting of his beloved Freemasons, of which he is a long-time member. “I got in the car around 9 a.m., made it in time for lunch and the meeting, then drove home,” he says. “It was no problem.”

And he is that way about the NKF Kidney Walks he participates in. He says he doesn’t train for them, but in the immortal words of Michael Jordan, “I just do it.” He says he doesn’t walk in the longer distances, but takes on the shorter routes.

The only year he’s bypassed an NKF walk in the past decade was one day when it was 90 degrees outside. “I got there, felt how hot it was, and said, ‘no way!’”

So, assuming the weather behaves, look for Unger this June at the annual San Jose Kidney Walk. He may be pushing a wheelchair, but make no mistake, he’s still in the driver’s seat.

National Multi-Market Sponsor and Team, Relypsa, reflects on a Goal-Breaking 2017 Kidney Walk Season

Robert Taylor, Associate Director, Marketing, Relypsa, Inc; National Kidney Walk Team Captain

RobertSince April of 2017, Relypsa participated in 18 Kidney Walks as a National Multi-Market Sponsor and a National Team. We worked together, fundraised a lot, and had so much fun, all while demonstrating our unending support and dedication to the entire kidney community. Being a part of the Kidney Walk and supporting kidney patients has been a top priority for Relypsa this year and we are so proud of what we have been able to accomplish as ONE RELYPSA.

Throughout the entire year, our coast-to-coast team did our best to stay focused on WHY we walk.

  • WE WALK for the 1 in 3 American adults currently at risk of developing kidney disease.
  • WE WALK for the 1 in 7 American adults who are battling kidney disease.
  • WE WALK for the 13 people who die every day waiting for a kidney transplant.

Time and time again, remembering our WHY has helped our team unite and push past our goals.

Email header - Relypsa (2)

The first target we hit was our Headquarters’ staff goal for the Silicon Valley Kidney Walk. We rallied together and exceeded our $50,000 goal by the walk date last spring.

The second goal we achieved was our National Team Fundraising Goal. After a strong end to our spring season, the fall Kidney Walk teams we up for the challenge of taking us across our finish line: $75,000. To date, we have raised nearly $77,000!

Email header - Relypsa (10)

Supporting the National Kidney Foundation through the Kidney Walk is a wonderful representation of our mission to improve the lives of patients on all levels. Whether we have our own personal connection to kidney disease, or we are allied by the work that we do everyday at Relypsa, the Kidney Walk has been a rewarding experience for each and every Relypsa team member who has walked, donated, fundraised and cheered on Team Relypsa.

We are excited to get started on the 2018 Kidney Walk and look forward to continuing to deepen and develop our partnership with NKF.