By Emilie M. Volkman, MSW, MA, LISW, CAPSW, LNHA
Winona Health Dialysis Department Manager
As we celebrate Winona Health’s 125 years of community-focused care, I’d like to share information with you about one of the services available here thanks to our organization’s steadfast dedication to our mission to improve the health and well-being of the Winona community. Percentage-wise, Winona Health’s Dialysis Department impacts a small portion of our community members, but for the people who rely on this life-saving treatment, it is crucial.
Winona Health began providing hemodialysis care in February 1973. This service wasn’t added to benefit our organization’s bottom line, but to serve those in our community who need it, and, by extension, their families, friends and neighbors.
Prior to hemodialysis, people with kidney failure had little hope of surviving. Technology has made enormous gains over the last several decades, and the experience of hemodialysis has become far safer and more effective.
We currently provide dialysis care for 33 patients who are dealing with various forms of kidney failure, and we are dedicated to help helping them thrive. This means something different for each patient. For some, it is about helping them manage the side effects of the hemodialysis treatment. For others, it is providing education and support in: managing dietary/fluid limitations; adjusting to the lifestyle that accompanies dialysis (spending about 4 hours 3 days/week receiving the treatment); addressing emotional or social issues that often accompany those things; or even seeking out employment/vocational rehabilitation that is compatible with the intensive treatment schedule. By extension, we also help our patients’ families. All of our work is done with a focus on supporting our patients—and their support systems—so they are empowered to take control of their lives and more effectively manage their health.
Providing this care requires an interdisciplinary team consisting of a nephrologist, nurse practitioner, RNs, LPNs, dialysis technicians, nursing assistants, chaplains, a health unit coordinator, social worker, dietitian, and a team of biomedical technicians to maintain our state-of-the-art equipment. These individuals work together to help patients maximize their quality of life.
Over the last year, we have expanded our services by creating a Kidney Care Team to help people with any stage of kidney disease. We pair excellent care from our nephrologist with care coordination and education to help patients change their lives. Our goal is to help people slow the progression of kidney disease so that they never have to walk through the doors of a dialysis unit. And for those who do end up with kidney failure, we help ensure they have everything they need to make well-informed decisions regarding their care and a smooth transition in those pursuits.
If dialysis care wasn’t available at Winona Health, patients would have to travel to a neighboring city three times a week. This would create a significant burden for patients and those who care for them. Winona Health is committed to providing these services because they are essential to our community members. We hope you and your family never need our dialysis services, but if you do, we’ll be here.
The Winona Health Foundation has established a special fund to support the operation of the Winona Health Kidney Care Team and our Hemodialysis Department in providing this life sustaining treatment in our community. Please consider a gift to the Winona Health Foundation to help this vital service continue to thrive in our community.
Gifts can be directed to the Winona Health Foundation, 855 Mankato Ave. Winona, MN 55987.