6/15/05 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association National Campaign to Focus on Patient Care, Legislative Reform

June 15, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Information: Janet D'Alesandro
(856) 256-2422; janetd@ajj.com

American Nephrology Nurses' Association National Campaign To Focus
on Patient Care, Legislative Reform

 Nephrology nurses are inviting lawmakers to visit dialysis units during "ESRD Education Week" in August. The visits will help the legislators make informed decisions about pending bills.

Pitman, NJ – As landmark legislation to improve care for patients with kidney disease awaits a decision in Congress, the American Nephrology Nurses' Association (ANNA) is mobilizing nurses across the country in an expanded campaign to teach legislators about end stage renal disease (ESRD).

ANNA is now inviting state and Congressional delegations to visit their local dialysis units during "ESRD Education Week," August 8-12, 2005. Propelled by the success of the "ESRD Day" campaign in previous years, ANNA has earmarked a full week for the event, although the nurses welcome legislators throughout the year to accommodate schedules.

According to ANNA officials, the annual education campaign is particularly critical this year as the "Kidney Care Quality and Improvement Act of 2005" (S.635/H.R.1298) winds its way through the House and Senate. The bill, which was introduced in March, addresses many key issues including reimbursement. It also advances quality care to Americans with kidney disease before they suffer complete organ failure and increases awareness in local communities.

"The number of new patients diagnosed with kidney disease has doubled each of the past two decades, and we expect the same for the next decade," said ANNA President Suzann VanBuskirk, BSN, RN, CNN. "Add those statistics to the shortage of professional nurses and other allied health care workers and the need for legislative reform, and you will see how we have reached a crucial tipping point."

Legislators have acknowledged that reimbursement for dialysis treatment has not kept pace with the rest of Medicare and that the existing ESRD program won’t be able to support the projected increase in patients unless it is reformed.

During the "ESRD Week" tours, nurses will describe daily operations of a dialysis unit, outline the role of nurses and technicians, discuss kidney disease and treatment and provide information regarding the number of treatment facilities and patients served in the legislators' districts. In addition, nurses will speak with the lawmakers and their staff members about the effects of the nursing shortage and other challenges facing the renal community.

ANNA launched "ESRD Day" in 2003. According to ESRD Week Project Coordinator Kathleen Kuchta, BSN, RN, the response from lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels has leapt each year with 121 visits logged in 2004.

"The response has been incredible," Kuchta said. "Some of the legislators even issued formal proclamations and launched their own education campaigns. When they talk with the nurses and patients during the visits, you can see how they realize the importance of the issues."

To supplement the tours of the dialysis facilities, legislators also receive ANNA’s ESRD Briefing Book for State and Federal Policymakers, Kuchta said. The booklet presents the basics of ESRD in lay terms and includes information on underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Statistics on incidence and treatment costs are also presented.

About 20 million Americans suffer from kidney disease. Of those patients, over 400,000 experience kidney failure. The rising numbers of people with kidney disease, many of whom are minorities, is in part attributed to the country’s obesity epidemic, an alarming trend that has led to more cases of diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of these diseases are major contributors to kidney failure.

For more information on ESRD Week or to download the ESRD booklet, visit ANNA’s Web site, www.annanurse.org.

ANNA is a member of Kidney Care Partners (www.kidneycarepartners.org), an alliance of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, providers and suppliers working together to improve the quality of care for individuals with end stage renal disease.

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ANNA is a professional nursing association with 11,900 members. Its mission is to advance nephrology nursing practice and positively influence outcomes for patients with kidney disease  processes requiring replacement therapies through advocacy, scholarship, and excellence.