April 2021
Announcements & Updates
April is National Donate Life Month and
National Donate Life Blue & Green Day is Friday, April 16th!
Celebrated in April each year, National Donate Life Month (NDLM) features an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

Here are some important facts about donation from the 2021 Donation and Transplantation Statistics from the Donate Life America Donor Designation Report and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN):

  • More than 39,000 transplants brought renewed life to patients, families, and communities .
  • 7,000 people die each year because the organs they need are not donated in time.
  • 85% of patients on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney. The average waiting time is 3 to 5 years.
  • More than 165 million people are registered organ, eye and tissue donors.

On National Donate Life Blue & Green Day, the ESRD community is encouraged to wear blue and green and to engage in sharing the Donate Life message and promoting the importance of registering as a donor.

Donate Life America has also dedicated special themes for each day of the week leading up to National Donate Life Blue & Green Day, including: recognizing donors, volunteers and healthcare heroes; giving hope to those waiting; and engaging in fun activities. Please consider sharing information with staff and patients in support of Donate Life initiatives.
April is National Stress Awareness Month
During the month of April, healthcare professionals across the country join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress. Stress can be debilitating, and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. Since stress is a normal part of human existence — nobody is immune to it — it’s important to arm ourselves with knowledge so that we recognize when it arises.

  1. Stress affects everyone
  2. Not all stress is bad.
  3. Long-term stress can harm your health
  4. There are ways to manage stress.
  5. If you are overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a professional.

  • Depression is common among people who have chronic illnesses
  • Temporary feelings of sadness are expected, but if these symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks, you may have depression.
  • In people with depression, scientists have found changes in the way several different systems in the body function that could have an impact on physical health, including: Increased inflammation, Changes in the control of heart rate and blood circulation, Abnormalities in stress hormones, Metabolic changes such as those seen in people at risk for diabetes
  • Depression is treatable even when another illness is present

For more information and resources about stress management, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
COVID Precautions High Risk Person Lives Here
The IPRO ESRD Network Program is excited to share a new patient-developed resource to help keep individuals safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This resource is intended for patients to display the color 11 X 17 poster size English | Spanish sign on their front door, entry hallway, and/or window to provide precautionary guidance and educational reminders to visitors entering their home.

The tool was designed to be particularly useful for individuals living in multi-generational homes and/or shared residences. 

The design layout has also been adaptable for print in black/white on 8 1/2 X 11 letter size to increase accessibility for patients. Dialysis facility staff are encouraged to print and distribute appropriate versions widely. 
Color 11 X 17 in English
Color 11 X 17 in Spanish
Black/White 8 1/2 X 11
World Immunization Week (April 24–30)
During the last week of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global public health partners recognize World Immunization Week – a time dedicated to promoting the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases and death. While the world focuses on critically important new vaccines to protect against COVID-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions. This year’s campaign will aim to build solidarity and trust in vaccination as a public good that saves lives and protects health.

Please continue to promote the importance of vaccines and immunizations with both staff and patients with information from the CDC.
New ESRD NCC COVID-19 Resources Available Online
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the End Stage Renal Disease National Coordinating Center (ESRD NCC) is producing a growing body of useful resources to support patient care and well-being. The ESRD NCC website is being updated regularly with new resources based on the recommendations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), ESRD Networks, and patient subject matter experts.

The new resources can be downloaded by visiting the ESRD NCC website, www.esrdncc.org, or click on the direct links below.

The ESRD NCC produces weekly COVID-19 webinars. During these events, healthcare providers and patients discuss how they or their organizations are coping or combating COVID-19. To register for upcoming COVID-19 webinars or to review previous events, visit https://esrdncc.org/en/covid-19/covid-webinars/.

For additional COVID-19 resources, visit www.kidneycovidinfocenter.com.
Implementation of Changes in the End-Stage Renal Disease
(ESRD) Prospective Payment System (PPS) and Payment
for Dialysis Furnished for Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) in ESRD
Facilities for Calendar Year (CY) 2021
Patient Services
Enhance Communication Between Facility Staff and Patients
A review of recent patient grievances received by ESRD Network staff determined that COMMUNICATION was the most common concern reported. To support improvement in facility/patient communication, the Network has identified a resource from The Sharp Experience.  Their resource includes a process for achieving satisfaction with patients and their families. It is called AIDET: Five Steps to Achieving Satisfaction, and includes:
  • Acknowledge: Greet people with a smile and use their names if you know them.
  • Introduce: Introduce yourself to others politely.
  • Duration: Keep in touch to ease waiting times.
  • Explanation: Advise others what you are doing, how procedures work, and whom to contact if they need assistance.
  • Thank you: Thank somebody. Foster an attitude of gratitude.

A review of the complete article gives more examples of the AIDET process, along with other resources to consider to assist your facility to enhance the communication between your facility and the patients that you serve.
Help Patients Bridge Gaps in Cultural-Based Hesitancy to the COVID-19 Vaccine
Three vaccines offering protection against the COVID-19 have been developed, approved, and delivered in less than a year. Building confidence in those vaccines, breaking through layers of mistrust, and persuading the majority of the public to get vaccinated could prove even more challenging, especially in communities of color.

Dark and tragic episodes from the past, such as the Tuskegee syphilis study, remain deeply rooted in the consciousness of minority communities can lead to vaccine hesitancy, or aversion to becoming vaccinated. “Vaccine hesitancy” has been recognized as a top 10 threat to global health by the World Health Organization.

There is no one-size fits all answer to the question of whether or not a person should get vaccinated, but providers can build a culture of trust if they start at the grassroots level, listening to people’s concerns and understanding the origins of their hesitation. The below links are to a webinar the IPRO ESRD Network Program released recently to provide the tools and understanding to do just that. Please share with staff and patients broadly.

Understanding the COVID 19 Vaccine and the Cultural Implications which Impact Vaccinations

Upcoming Vocational Rehabilitation Education Opportunities
Each month the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work program hosts the Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE), which are free webinars on vocational rehabilitation services for eligible populations. They are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Past WISE webinars can be accessed at WISE on Demand. The next webinar will be held:

When: Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Time: 3:00pm – 4:30pm (EST)

Patients may be eligible for additional benefits even if they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You can also learn more about work incentives in the the Red Book: A Summary Guide to Employment Supports for Persons with Disabilities Under the SSDI and SSI Programs.

Please also visit the IPRO ESRD Network Program website for additional information and resources about vocational rehabilitation.
Quality Improvement Initiatives
Telehealth for Home Dialysis
“CMS data shows that those with ESRD have the highest rate of hospitalization of any single group, a trend consistent with having to frequently leave home to receive dialysis,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release. “In the midst of a deadly pandemic that poses a particular threat to those with serious underlying conditions, President Trump’s call for increased access to home dialysis has never been more urgent. Unfortunately, government rules too often stand in the way. Today’s action represents a sorely needed course direction, making it easier for ESRD facilities to make new and innovative home dialysis machines available to patients who need them.”

More than 85 percent of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries living with ESRD travel to a facility three times a week for dialysis, spending an average of 12 hours a week connected to a machine that, under the right circumstances, could be located at home. Patients who receive dialysis treatments at home can increase their independence, while at the same time receiving necessary support from their care providers with telehealth.

According to the National Kidney Foundation's 5 Things to Know About Telemedicine, telemedicine offers a promising alternative to in-person care. Telehealth solutions offer self-management tools and enhanced communication between patients and clinicians. Clinicians can remotely monitor a patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as offering resources for medication adherence and diet plans. More importantly, nephrologists and nephrology nurses can coordinate care online with a patient’s primary care provider and interact at home with patients undergoing hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, offering on-demand care between regularly scheduled office visits.

If your facility is experiencing barriers to utilizing telehealth, please contact the Network for technical assistance.

For more information and resources about telehealth, please visit the IPRO ESRD Network Program pages at:
National Living Donor Assistance Center
Many dialysis patients feel discouraged to ask a family member, caregiver or a friend to become their kidney donor as they fear creating a financial burden for them. Luckly, there are new bills and program expansions to help living donors with expenses and other financial challenges. One of these programs is the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC), which can help with living donor travel expenses, lost wages and dependent care expenses! Although the transplant center usually takes care of the living donor application, dialysis facility staff can help educate dialysis patients about this program for consideration of living donation.

To learn more about NLDAC, consider watching these recorded webinars:
No Home Program? No Problem!
Over the last several months, the IPRO ESRD Network Program has been working diligently with a focus group of dialysis facilities to understand barriers and successes in moving patients to home therapy. To help support facilities in this project, the Network provided the Home Change Package developed by the ESRD National Coordinating Center (NCC). The Change Package includes actionable change ideas collected from high performing dialysis centers across the nation. In addition to the Change Package, the NCC also provides tools to support the growth of home therapies with Home Dialysis Heroes and Universal Staff Education: Home Dialysis.

Through work with the home focus groups, the Network identified a best practice developed in a rural facility. In addition to being located in a remote area, the facility does not have a home program. The identified practice was based on interventions implemented using the Change Package and supporting resources.

The facility's social worker shared the following:

“Since we do not have a home dialysis program, I reached out to our sister facilities regarding the Home Dialysis Heroes (in the Change Package). The social workers asked home patients in their respective programs if they would be willing to provide peer support to interested patients at my clinic. They do have willing patients that we can match with patients at my facility. Also, home dialysis as an option is being discussed with patients by more staff, I believe, as a result of the education modules provided and an increase in awareness of staff about home modalities. We have also talked with patients during their care plan meetings about home dialysis as an option. I developed a tracking tool to help document our efforts and progress with patients who are interested. We are a little unit, but we sure do try our best for our patients. I have noticed more staff talking about home dialysis and seeing it as an option. It’s exciting to see!”

The Network would like to commend this facility for going above and beyond to educate patients, staff and nephrologists. By changing the culture to "home is possible", a big impact can made in patients' lives...even in a small rural facility with no home program.
Data Systems and Reporting
Information Systems Technical Assistance
The IPRO ESRD Data Department provides technical assistance using a customer support system. This is one place for your data submission needs for various systems such as CROWNWeb, NHSN, Dialysis data or Quality Incentive program. In order to meet the needs of our facilities, the new system will provide support:

  • Email: To reach the Network Data Support Team by email, send requests for assistance to IPROESRDHelp@iproesrdnetwork.freshdesk.com. The help can be a return email providing information about the data submission from our knowledge base or a phone call from the staff.

  • Support Portal: By registering for the IPRO ESRD Network Support Portal, you will be able to quickly and easily submit questions and requests for assistance directly to the Network Data Support staff. You can register for the portal by going to http://help.esrd.ipro.org and selecting “Sign Up”.

  • Knowledge Base: The Network Data Team has documented answers to a multitude of “Frequently Asked Questions” and have posted them to the Knowledge Base on the Support Portal. You can browse the different knowledge items, and if you still need help, you can register for the portal and submit a ticket for help. The Knowledge Base can also be located at http://help.esrd.ipro.org.

NOTE: When submitting a request to the Network, you should NEVER include any patient-specific information such as Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Medicare Claim Number, etc. The only patient identifier that can safely be communicated is the Unique Patient Identifier (UPI) from CROWNWeb.

For more information, please visit the Network website.
Network Staff Directory
Susan Caponi, RN, BSN, MBA, CPHQ
(516) 209-5619

Jeanine Pilgrim, MPH, PMP, CPHQ, CHES,CPXP
Network Program Director
(516) 209-5365

Anna Bennett
Emergency Manager/QI Coordinator
(516) 209-5474

Erin Baumann, LMSW, MSL
Patient Services Director
(516) 209-5348

Jaya Bhargava, PhD, CPHQ
Regional Operations Director
(203) 285-1215

Shasha Aylor, MBA
Data Analyst
(919) 463-4520
Laura Edwards
Administrative Coordinator
(516) 209-5672

Elena Balovlenkov, RN, BSN, MS
Quality Improvement Director
(516) 209-5416

Danielle Andrews, MPH, GCPH
Community Outreach Coordinator
(516) 209-5549

Kathryn Betts
Patient Services Coordinator
(919) 463-4529

Sharon Lamb
Data Coordinator
(516) 209-5459

Mac Bulloch, IMBA
Data Analyst
(216) 755-3052