Making Dialysis Convenient
Wednesday - April 29, 2009
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Executive vice president for Liberty Dialysis Hawaii
Just as the late Pittsburgh Pirate ballplayer Roberto Clemente stated that baseball has been very, very good to him, I can also state that nursing has been very, very good to me. I started out working as a dialysis nurse in 1978 and except for a very short detour into law enforcement (that is an entirely different story), I have worked in the dialysis field for the past 30 years.
Being a nurse has offered me many exciting opportunities for fulfilling work that led me first into clinic management and ultimately into business leadership positions.
I don’t actively work as a nurse any longer but every decision I make as the leader of Liberty Dialysis Hawaii is patient and business focused, and tempered by the heart of a nurse.
In January 2006, Liberty Dialysis Hawaii was formed as a joint venture between 12 of Hawaii’s best Nephrologists and Liberty Dialysis, LLC. The newly formed company acquired all of the dialysis centers owned by St. Francis. When St. Francis made the decision to divest their dialysis services, they were diligent in selecting a buyer that was committed to carrying on its mission, and Liberty’s mission was very compatible with its. I was brought on board from the Mainland in 2007 and realized from the beginning that we had the opportunity to provide our patients with the very best in quality care, while at the same time being a community partner in the areas of the five islands where we had clinics.
Bringing dialysis treatment closer to patients has been a challenge. Approximately 156,000 residents of Hawaii have Chronic Kidney Disease - 30 percent more than the national average. One of the best things about Liberty Dialysis is that leaders are allowed to strategize and implement plans that are market specific. In Hawaii among the first things we did was build clinics in Kaimuki and Waipahu because these communities have a large number of people requiring dialysis. We relocated Kona Dialysis because the physical plant was old and too small for the number of patients requiring services. Next on the development todo list is a new clinic in Kailua, at the Aikahi shopping center.
Our patients are the reason we do what we do, and for them we have added wireless Internet and flat screen TVs at every station with DVD players, and UH football during the fall. Comfortable chairs from which to watch TV, read or nap while on dialysis are important, and our new clinics have heated recliners.
Our island state presents us with unique opportunities to be environmentally conscious and we have undertaken a number of initiatives to take care of the aina:
* The patient-specific reuse of dialyzers has allowed us to reduce landfill waste by 140 dialyzers per patient, per year.
* Re-useable sharps containers
* Renewable energy when possible
* The Sterimed
The SteriMed is a machine that processes bio-waste by sterilizing and grinding it into a confetti consistency which can then be dumped into the regular trash as a fraction of the original volume.
Only Liberty’s dialysis centers use the SteriMed system for biowaste disposal in Hawaii
After 34 years in health care, 30 of those years in dialysis, and many years of being a leader from within the corporate “box” I am fortunate to have finally found a company that allows me the freedom to lead in the way that best serves our patients, our employees, and this beautiful place in which we live.
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