DaVita Patients and Teammates Advocate in DC
I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for our dialysis patients, and what a trip it was! On June 20, 2017 a diverse group of 20 teammates and 25 Dialysis Patient Citizens patient ambassadors converged on our nation’s capital to learn about advocacy and deliver a unified message to Congress. We received training, had some fun, socialized, and then hit Capitol Hill.
As a dialysis nurse and administrator, I work every day with patients struggling to get through all the stuff that happens every day. Treatments 3+ times a week, daily pills, diet and fluid restrictions are tough enough without the additional challenge of finding money to pay for their life-saving treatments. I so enjoyed meeting the patients that took the time and effort to travel to Washington to advocate for themselves and others and hear their stores. Our patients were from all over and all ages, some had received transplants, some were new to this way of life.
We did get in a little tourism, visiting the Library of Congress and marveling at the historic buildings and monuments. One of my favorite memories was listening to a guest speaker during training, someone who actually helps draft legislation. I was glad to learn about his story and of the amazing efforts of public servants who passionately work to make people’s lives easier. He took questions from the room full of teammates and patients who were there to speak on the behalf of ESRD patients everywhere.
The big day dawned and we hit the halls of Congress. I had the pleasure of meeting with three congressional offices from Nevada, my home state. Each official was interested in hearing my stories and learning what they could do to help. It was a pleasure to meet with staff members and educate them on kidney disease and how it affects people. Their questions were detailed and they all were impressed when they learned the positive impact they could have on their constituents’ daily lives.
In Nevada, a big challenge is transportation. Nevada is a large state, and very spread out. Some patients travel five to six hours one-way to get to their appointments! The Dialysis PATIENT Demonstration Act would vastly improve the ability to integrate care for our patients. Being able to coordinate with specialists would help avoid having to do those long drives multiple times to get to multiple appointments.
The experience of meeting one-on-one with my congressional representatives was unforgettable, as was the time speaking with and advocating for my patients. It was a whirlwind trip, and so rewarding. I hope to have the opportunity again someday, and I hope anyone who has a chance to talk to their elected officials takes it. Our voice is necessary and powerful, and we need to use it to share our passion for our patients.