During the 30 years since the Wheeling Dialysis Center first opened its doors in the original Wheeling Hospital in North Wheeling, several innovative programs have benefited more than 1,300 patients who have received dialysis care in Wheeling.
Several of these programs are available at each of the three facilities. However, due to space limitations and other logistical issues, some activities are conducted at only a single location.
Individuals with chronic kidney disease are offered the opportunity of participating in a three-hour program at Wheeling Dialysis Center. These sessions are scheduled each month and are designed to introduce patients who will eventually need dialysis or transplantation to an overview of treatment options and to some of the staff who will be involved in their care. Dialysis nurses, a renal dietitian and renal social worker each present brief discussions about kidney disease and the issues that will become important to the patients. Family members are invited to attend these meetings, which involve friendly and interesting conversations. Patients who attend these classes receive packets containing helpful written information dealing with Medicare and insurance coverage, important medical information about kidney failure, as well as an introduction to what they can expect to experience while undergoing dialysis or transplantation. Follow-up meetings are arranged on an individual basis, based on patient interest and specific needs, such as further social worker counseling, dietary instructions, or vascular access planning or preparation for home dialysis. Participants in these classes experience less stressful and smoother adjustment when they finally start dialysis.
"The Kidney Stew" is a newsletter published every three months, under the direction of the Wheeling Renal Care Social Services Department. Articles of interest include brief stories submitted by our patients, helpful tidbits dealing with special nutritional recommendations, transplantation and home dialysis. Other special articles and games provide interesting and enjoyable reading. A regular feature of this newsletter highlights new programs offered for our patients, such as exercise rehabilitation, diabetes self-management and others. The "Stew" is distributed free of charge to all Wheeling Renal Care patients, including transplant patients, many of whom regularly visit their friends at the dialysis center
Dialysis Facility Bulletin Boards
Each facility maintains educational bulletin boards, located in the entry lobby. Space is reserved for messages and educational materials dealing with nutrition, exercise and patient support organizations, such as the National Kidney Foundation, the ESRD Network Organizations and the Life Options Rehabilitation Advisory Council (LORAC). These and other groups provide excellent educational pamphlets, videotapes and other materials useful to patients and family members. The Social Services Department maintains a file of current education materials, Web sites and other information.
Wheeling Dialysis Center has offered a dialysis Patient Exercise Program for more than 20 years. With the hiring of a certified exercise specialist several years ago, this valuable program has expanded to all three Wheeling Renal Care facilities. Each new dialysis patient undergoes a specific assessment of physical function, and receives an individualized exercise prescription.
Each patient's progress is monitored regularly in an attempt to maximize his or her level of physical functioning. Patients may be referred to a physical therapist if identified problems could benefit further by specific therapy.
Fall Prevention Program
While features of the Wheeling Renal Care Patient Exercise Program have been developed following recommendations from the LORAC Dialysis Exercise Guidelines, our program features several unique aspects not typically encountered in dialysis facilities. An example is our Fall Prevention Program, which was created as a result of analysis of falls occurring among dialysis patients. This program has been presented at national meetings and has served as a model for other dialysis facilities.
The Fall Prevention Program is part of a system-wide patient safety initiative. Prior to each dialysis, patients are questioned regarding any falls or injuries since the previous treatment. Additional questions by the dialysis therapist or nurse may lead to immediate notification of the physician or adjustment in dialysis heparin dosage, as appropriate. In all cases, further questions may lead to additional interventions, such as focused instructions in fall prevention, physical therapy referral or diagnostic tests. This program has resulted in prevention of several potential serious complications of unrecognized injuries. In an attempt to determine predictive factors related to falls among dialysis patients, a study in collaboration with faculty and graduate students from the Physical Therapy Department at nearby Wheeling Jesuit University is underway.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
Wheeling Renal Care offers intensive counseling in nutrition for patients with chronic kidney disease, those not yet requiring dialysis and those with transplants. A Medicare-certified renal dietitian is responsible for conducting comprehensive nutritional assessments and teaching for eligible patients from throughout the upper Ohio Valley. This service is available at the Wheeling Dialysis Center. Further information and appointments may be made available by calling 304-242-7752.
Dialysis Technician Training
All three of Wheeling Renal Care's facilities have state-approved technician training programs. Staff training throughout Wheeling Renal Care facilities is coordinated by a designated nurse educator.
Benjamin Ybanez Memorial Fund
In 2005, the family of Wheeling Dialysis Center patient, Dr. Benjamin Ybanez, established a fund in his memory, to be used to benefit the patients of the WRC dialysis program. This charitable fund is administered by the Community Foundation.
For many years, friends and family members of our local dialysis and transplant patients have provided charitable donations to WDC. All such gifts, now channeled through the Ybanez Fund, are tax-deductible. Some of the programs that have been conducted as a result of these generous donations include:
- educational programs for patients and their families.
- activities and equipment that promote quality of life and rehabilitation.
- assistance with transportation and caregiver support.
Contributions may be made at any time by contacting 304-242-7770.
Transplant Support Group
Wheeling Renal Care has strong relationships with transplant programs at Ohio State University, West Virginia University, Cleveland Clinic, Allegheny General Hospital and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The local nephrologists, in conjunction with Wheeling Renal Care dietitians and social workers, routinely provide post-transplant medical care. Because of the complex problems that frequently occur in transplant patients, a local support group meets regularly to assist new and even long-term transplant patients with these issues. Initially organized by the Wheeling Renal Care social workers, this group is now essentially self-sufficient and arranges its own meetings. These sessions are usually held at a local restaurant, and feature guest speakers in a friendly atmosphere that is highly conducive to friendship building. Members of this group have participated in several of the national Transplant Olympics, held at Ohio State University and, more recently, at Disney World in Orlando, Fl. Team Wheeling athletes have participated as members of the Team Pittsburgh and Ohio Kidney Foundation teams. Several have won gold and silver medals in events such as competitive bicycling, long and high jumping, 200- and 400-meter sprints and 3-on-3 basketball. Through special arrangements with Wheeling Hospital's Howard Long Wellness Center, our transplant athletes undergo individualized exercise assessment and training.
Several clinical research studies have been conducted in Wheeling Renal Care facilities in areas of exercise and electrolyte metabolism, urea kinetics and protein energy metabolism. Current investigations involve prospective analysis of factors that may be predictive of falls, and the use of targeted interventions to prevent falls among dialysis patients. Results of these studies have been presented at national scientific meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals. Another study, being conducted in collaboration with Renal Solutions Inc., is examining several aspects of a unique sorbent-based hemodialysis system. This dialysis machine is expected to revolutionize and enhance the provision of home hemodialysis technology. The studies at Wheeling Dialysis Center will enhance the expertise the nephrologists worldwide, and will help to make home hemodialysis simpler and safer for patients.
In attempt to encourage Wheeling Renal Care employees to lead healthy lifestyles, an exercise physiologist/specialist has conducted several activities involving weight control, exercise and smoking cessation. These programs are presented as part of an overall initiative to improve employee morale, team-building, as well as to maintain a healthy and vibrant workforce.
It has long been the intent of Wheeling Renal Care to encourage and support professional development for all its employees, under the belief that a knowledgeable staff with the right tools will be able to deliver the highest quality of care possible. Over the past several years, WRC has developed and sponsored scientific meetings for renal professionals from all disciplines. These CEU-accredited programs have included nationally known speakers and have attracted attendees from several states. Wheeling Renal Care employees are also provided the opportunity to attend regional and national meetings, such as those sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, ESRD Network Organizations, NRAA, NANT and others. Regular in-service sessions are held at each facility and employees are encouraged to maintain membership in their respective professional organizations. A full-time designated nurse educator coordinates all educational programs.
On a regular basis, students from local nursing schools spend time rotating through Wheeling Dialysis Center in order to gain experience with dialysis patients. Center staff members spend considerable time providing personal instruction to these students. This facility is also designated as a Community Learning Site for the Wheeling Jesuit University School of Nursing and its Department of Physical Therapy. Rotations also are performed by nursing students from West Liberty State College.
Partners in Education
In 2003, Wheeling Renal Care became the first health care institution to become a Partner in Education with Wheeling Park High School (WPHS). This relationship is intended to create a working relationship between Wheeling Renal Care and WPHS that provides opportunities for students to observe a unique health care delivery system and to become involved in a variety of community service projects that stimulates their creativity and enthusiasm. Personal contact with Wheeling Renal Care professionals and patients may motivate these students to pursue careers in health care.
Health Fairs, Fund Raisers
Wheeling Renal Care employees regularly participate in local health fairs, using these opportunities to increase public awareness of the scope of kidney disease and hypertension, and the importance of early identification and treatment of these conditions. Using materials provided by the National Kidney Foundation and other organizations, our employees are able to use their own experience and expertise to promote the notion that an educated public is a healthier public.
Joining together with hundreds of other Wheeling area residents, Wheeling Renal Care employees regularly participate in local walkathons and other fund-raising and public awareness campaigns sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, American Cancer Society, Heart Association and other groups.