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Welcome to the September edition of the Quality Insights Renal Network 4 (QIRN4) Network Notes patient e-newsletter. In this issue, we bring you the final installment in a series about pet therapy, emergency preparedness, patient testimonials, inspirational quotes, puzzles, ESRD events, resources and much more. We encourage you to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions. 
PetTherapyPet therapy interview:
Jeanne Beckley and Gail Flannery, Penn State Hershey Medical Center* 

Many people who are on dialysis experience depression and/or anxiety. Research suggests that there are many benefits that come from being around a pet during this time.

We recently talked to Jeanne Beckley and Gail Flannery, both employed by Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  Both are also pet therapy advoc

Jeanne Beckley is one of the coordinators for the pet therapy program at Hershey. She's been working with the program since it started in the Main Hospital in 2005 and is proud to say she was involved in creating the program for adult patients. Prior to 2005, the Main Hospital did not have a program. Only the Children's Hospital had a pet therapy program. The Children's Hospital still maintains a separate pet therapy program from the Main Hospital.  

"We are selective with the size of the pet therapy dogs we place in our dialysis unit," Jeanne said. "We choose to place smaller dogs there so that they can more easily visit with the patients who are sitting in recliners for the treatments. Also, we felt it was "safer" than having a larger dog trying to maneuver around all the equipment sitting in the dialysis unit. Our smaller dogs can easily visit with the patients.  The feedback we have received from the patients, staff and our pet therapy teams has all been very positive." 

Gail Flannery, who works at Hershey's dialysis facility, believes dialysis patients and staff have benefited from the hospital's pet therapy program.  She says the dialysis facility has been enjoying the benefits of pet therapy for several years.

"So many patients that live in assisted living facilities and can no longer have their pets really look forward to the dogs coming to visit," she said. "The dogs hold a special place in all of their hearts." 
Dogs come to the dialysis facility every four to six weeks.   

*This is the third in a series of three interviews with dialysis providers who are pet therapy advocates. Read our first interview with Rachel Peck in the July issue and our second interview with Camille Coiro in the August issue. 
VascularAccessProtectionHow does a patient care for and protect a vascular access?  
A patient can care for and protect a vascular access by:
  • ensuring that the healthcare provider checks the access for signs of infection or problems with blood flow before each hemodialysis treatment, even if the patient is inserting the needles
  • keeping the access clean at all times
  • using the access site only for dialysis
  • being careful not to bump or cut the access
  • checking the thrill in the access every day; the thrill is the rhythmic vibration a person can feel over the vascular access
  • watching for and reporting signs of infection, including redness, tenderness, or pus
  • not letting anyone put a blood pressure cuff on the access arm
  • not wearing jewelry or tight clothes over the access site
  • not sleeping with the access arm under the head or body
  • not lifting heavy objects or putting pressure on the access arm
Learn more about vascular access from the National Institute of Health website.  
MedicalEmergencyIs it a Medical Emergency?   
Dr. Elaine Kaptein is a nephrologist at USC. She has seen it all when dealing with people who have kidney disease. A common question she gets from patients is, "When should I go to the Emergency Room, and when should I wait?" Dr. Kaptein explains what constitutes an Emergency, and what is essential to bring and to know to save your life. Lori and Dr. Kaptein also share strategies for staying out of the ER, and emphasize the importance of being your own advocate.  Listen to this interview featured on the Renal Support Network website.

DisasterWatchDisaster Watch - The Kidney Community is Prepared
Nine Louisiana dialysis facilities closed due to recent flooding. Call (800) 472-8664 if you are a patient in flooding area and have not heard from your dialysis provider. This is a good reminder to always be prepared. An emergency can arise in so many ways, and if you are on dialysis you need to know what to do. Joan Thomas is the Kidney Community Emergency Response Program Director of the ESRD National Coordinating Center, and works with communities to provide dialysis if a center isn't operational.  She explains what people on dialysis need to know and have on hand, and the different communication and dietary strategies that ensure optimal health and survival if a disaster strikes.

NewInitiativeNew Initiative Aims to Help Kidney Disease Patients Keep Their Jobs
A new research and policy collaboration, called the KidneyWorks Initiative, aims to help Americans with chronic kidney disease who are not on dialysis maintain their jobs and slow their disease. The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and the Medical Education Institute (MEI) launched the initiative on Capitol Hill. Learn more from this article featured in Nephrology News & Issues

PatientTestimonialPatient Testimonial: My PD Dialysis Journey
Timmy Nelson shares his story about surgery and his journey with peritoneal dialysis (PD).  Read his story.  

PatientSupportGroupNew Patient support group has started

A new patient support group has started. Patients can join the Westtown Patient Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) Forum, located at 105 Westtown Road in West Chester, PA. The next meeting will be on October 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This is a patient-focused and patient-driven forum designed to: 
  • Develop a support network for PD patients.
  • Offer an opportunity to meet, greet, and share ideas for a healthier, more effective PD life.
  • Provide a positive group session to learn from each other.
  • Provide an opportunity to share frustrations, along with brainstorming viable solutions.
  • Share what you have learned from the dialysis process.
  • Be an example for others on the merits of PD.
No questions? No concerns? Perhaps you have the answers that can aid another dialysis patient. RSVP by calling the clinic at (610) 701-2491 by October 17 to save a spot for yourself.

QuotesandJokesQuotable Quotes and a Few Jokes 
"The word WHY will make you and others THINK."
-Allen Nelson, QIRN4 Patient Representative   
Thought for the Day: 
Getting older means living longer.

"You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind."  
- Irish Proverb

Fun Fact: Honey bees contribute $15 billion to the economy each year.

MonthlyPuzzlesMonthly Puzzles: What is Potassium and Why is it important to you?  
Potassium is a mineral found in many of the foods you eat. It plays a role in keeping your heartbeat regular and your muscles working right. Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of potassium in your body. However, when your kidneys are not healthy, you often need to limit certain foods that can increase the potassium in your blood to a dangerous level. You may feel some weakness, numbness and tingling if your potassium is at a high level. If your potassium becomes too high, it can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack. Learn more
Now that you know more about potassium, check out these monthly puzzles, which focus on potassium in your food.
FacebookHave you found us on facebook? 
QIRN4 posts the latest happenings and interesting insights for the dialysis community on our Facebook page. If you haven't already, please check us out and "like" our page to make sure our posts find their way to your news feed.   
KidneyFundHIPPAmerican Kidney Fund HIPP Could help with Cost of premiums
If you are on dialysis and have health insurance coverage but are unable to afford the cost of your premiums, the American Kidney Fund's Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP) may be able to help.  Patients may qualify for this program if they have insufficient income and savings to pay their premium bills.  HIPP covers premiums for Part B Medicare, Medigap, commercial plans including Marketplace plans, employer group plans, and COBRA plans.  Learn more.

GolfTournamentjoin the Kidney foundation
of Central PA's 9th Annual kidney classic golf tournament 
Join the Kidney Foundation of Central PA (KFCP) on Monday, September 19 at the prestigious West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill, PA for a fun golf-filled day to benefit a great cause. The tournament will include individual and team challenges, a putting contest, raffle prizes, and a sports memorabilia silent auction. Proceeds from this event help support essential KFCP programs such as the nationally-recognized Patient and Family Partner Program, the Patient Emergency Assistance Fund, and Camp Kydnie. Learn more

Registration is now open for the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) National Patient Meeting on September 23-25 in Nashville, TN. Three major themes at this year's Convention will be:
  • Increasing Living Organ Donation (including a workshop on "Having Your Donor Find You" on September 22)
  • Engaging Patients: How Voices and Choices Shape Your Future
  • Food, Drugs and Safety
Eight Continuing Education credits are available for social workers, dietitians, and registered nurses. If you would like to display a poster or exhibit in the exhibit hall at the meeting, you must apply by September 1.  For all details, including agenda, registration, lodging, visit the  AAKP website
PatientResourcesPatient resources   

Fluid Control for Energy to Live a Full Life
The Renal Support Group has published a useful article, written by Susie Gonzalez, about fluid management.  
Support Groups

Do find this newsletter helpful? Are there things you'd like to see changed? Please take this short survey to provide your feedback. Please submit any items of interest for this newsletter to Deborah Knight ( 
610 Freedom Business Center,  
Suite 102 
King of Prussia, PA 19406 
(610) 265-2418 
(800) 548-9205 (patients only) 
(610) 783-0374 (fax) 
This material was prepared by Quality Insights Renal Network 4 under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The contents do not necessarily reflect CMS policy. 

Publication No. ESRD4-083016