Why Thompson Hospital’s inpatient dialysis matters
Dr. Catherine Moore is a nephrologist - a doctor specializing in kidney care – and wants area residents to know that if they need dialysis while hospitalized at Thompson Hospital, they’re in the right place.
Moore, one of seven UR Medicine nephrologists on Thompson’s medical staff, founded the Thompson dialysis program five years ago and says it has meant an average of 120 to 140 dialysis treatments per year. Patients have given the staff positive feedback about the program, which includes both consults and dialysis services supervised by the nephrologists, who are on call 24-7.
“People who frequently need to be in the hospital say they like to come here and prefer this to going to Rochester,” Moore says.
For many Finger Lakes residents, the doctor notes, Rochester is at least 25 miles away. “For folks who are in the hospital for a number of days with family members coming in to visit, that’s a big deal,” she says.
According to Moore, many patients enjoy being in a smaller hospital, as well, because it adds to their comfort level.
“I’ve found that people in this area like that community hospital feel, knowing they know the doctors here,” she says. “They know the team, and that’s nice.”
Dialysis – for those whose kidneys do not function effectively – is a treatment in which harmful wastes, salt and excess fluid are filtered from the blood with the help of a special machine. Without the treatment, these substances can build up in the body, blood pressure can rise and swelling called edema can occur, along with more serious consequences.
Moore understands some may be confused by the term “inpatient dialysis,” which is for patients who are in the hospital for another reason. “Five years ago, if a dialysis patient had pneumonia, they’d have to be transferred to another hospital. But now they can stay at Thompson and get their dialysis,” she explains.
Most dialysis patients typically receive their treatments three days a week at a clinic. If someone usually has dialysis at their clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, readjusting their schedule while they’re hospitalized at Thompson is not an issue, Moore says. What is important, she says, is ensuring the treatments are on a timely basis, to avoid a buildup of toxins.
The in-hospital treatments at Thompson can be provided at the bedside via a portable system. This is the case whether the patient is on one of the medical/surgical floors, in the intensive care unit or even in the Emergency Department.
The treatments are supervised by a nephrologist and administered by a specially-trained dialysis nurse. A technician is also present if the treatment takes place not at the bedside but on the second-floor inpatient dialysis unit, where patients whose condition is stable sometimes receive their treatment.
Inpatient dialysis treatments at Thompson typically last three to four hours. To ensure continuity of care, details about the treatment are shared with the patient’s hospitalist (in-hospital doctor) and with the nephrology clinic that serves as the patient’s home base.
At the time of discharge, the hospital sends the clinic a summary of the treatment, noting any changes in the patient’s condition that may have taken place.
Thompson Health Executive Vice President/COO Kurt Koczent says a greater nephrology presence and inpatient dialysis were identified even before UR Medicine and Thompson Health affiliated in 2012 as one of the objectives to achieve in order to meet a need in the area.
“This is just one example of how our affiliation is benefitting our community,” he said. “When people are sick, it’s important to many of them to be close to home, and we’re gratified to be able to offer that now to our hospitalized patients who need dialysis.”