At age 65, I discovered that my kidneys were failing. I have been on hemodialysis for five years. This has not been a pleasant five years, but there is much I have learned during this period. I have learned that it is extremely important to select the right doctor.
My first nephrologist on my first appointment talked into a recording device and did not address me at all. He then prescribed a prescription blood pressure medicine that caused my face and throat and lips to swell. I called him in a panic and he told me to go see my primary physician. Needless to say, that was my one and only visit with him.
My next nephrologist saw me for several years and one day I had a serious problem and called his office. I was informed by his receptionist that he was on holiday in India for three months and did not have a backup. Now in complete frustration I contacted a nephrologist who turned out to be just wonderful. She is dedicated to her patients and returns calls for assistance just as a doctor should.
After my kidneys failed, I was sent to a dialysis center that was a complete horror chamber. The equipment was ancient, the facility was filthy and they had to set up two machines in case one broke down. I only lasted a couple weeks at this center, the last being when a nurse stuck nine needles in my arm and stated if she could not place the next needle in properly, I would have to go home without a treatment.
I left that day and went to another facility. From the very first day there was a major difference. The equipment was modern, the facility was clean and the nurses and techs had no problem inserting the needles. The only complaint I had that for some unknown reason the center had no generator.
After a few years I moved to a brand new facility with new equipment and an excellent staff, but the company running this facility is cutting corners. The company instituted a program called the wave, or the team concept, where nurses and techs rotate around the facility. Now the only reason for this is to cut the number of techs and nurses. It does nothing to benefit the patient. Little things like the pillow that supported my back are gone after being available for five years.
My major complaint is that in a brand new facility there is no generator. How New York State could possibly allow a dialysis center to operate without one is a disgrace. In a major power outage there is no place for the patients to go and our lives would be in danger. There would be no place to go as the number of dialysis patients exceeds the facilities that could take them. The center gives handouts on how to clamp off lines in case of a power outage, but many of the patients would be unable to accomplish this task.
Now approaching my late seventies, this is not a major concern of mine, but if things could change for the younger patients it would be a major benefit for them.
The company running this facility last year reported profits of hundreds of millions of dollars. So it is not a question of affordability; it is a matter of doing the right thing for patients.
To Gov. Andrew Cuomo and our state legislators, do the right thing and pass legislation mandating a natural gas-fired generator in all dialysis centers.