(Aug. 19, 2009)
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones visited dialysis patients in Greenville on Wednesday, calling for more research into kidney disease and discussing the importance of education and nutrition.
Jones visited the Fresenius Medical Care North America ECU Dialysis Center. Fresenius contracts with ECU physicians for patient care. Dr. Cynthia Christiano, ECU clinical assistant professor of internal medicine-nephrology, is the medical director of the facility. Mary Blick is Fresenius’ area manager. Blick met with Jones in Washington, D.C., earlier this year and invited him to visit the center on Arlington Boulevard.
“We’re very excited for the congressman to be here,” Christiano said. “We want to heighten awareness and improve education and to use this as a starting point to improve the lives of our patients in eastern North Carolina.”
The center has 38 beds and about 130 patients who typically receive dialysis three times a week for up to four hours each visit, Blick said. Dialysis is a method that removes waste from blood when the kidneys can no longer do it. Blood is pumped out, cleansed and put back in the body.
Kidney failure or end stage renal disease disproportionately affects minority populations specifically African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics. In 2006, North Carolina ranked 11th in the nation for the number of new cases of kidney failure per year and 10th for the number of people being treated for kidney failure, according to the U.S. Renal Data System.
Stanley Robinson of Ayden has been receiving dialysis for eight years. He arrives at the center by 5:30 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for his usual four and half hours of treatment.
“It’s saving my life. It’s something I have to do. If you don’t do what the doctors tell you, you’re really in trouble,” said Robinson, 50, who was diagnosed with high blood pressure in his 20s and began experiencing health complications in his late 30s.
“You know people are sick, you know people have health problems, but when you come to a facility like this, it’s a vivid reminder of the health care problems people face,” Jones said.
While Jones said there are no easy answers to the health care problems Americans face, he commended Fresenius and ECU for working together to provide care.
“This partnership, where a publicly traded company can partner with a public university, it’s a win-win for citizens who use this center,” Jones said. “We need to be doing more of this across the nation.”