8/2/05 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association Prepares for Nationwide Campaign on Renal Disease

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

American Nephrology Nurses’ Association Prepares for Nationwide Campaign
on Renal Disease 

Thousands of Americans suffer from end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Nephrology nurses will educate lawmakers in August during “ESRD Education Week”
to help them make informed decisions in Congress.

Pitman, NJ – The American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) will welcome legislators across the country to visit dialysis units and learn about end stage renal disease (ESRD) during "ESRD Education Week," August 8-12, 2005.

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.

The campaign, now in its third year, has been expanded from one day to a full week, although the nurses welcome legislators throughout the year to accommodate schedules. Both state and Congressional delegations have shown increasing interest in the event, and landmark legislation is now pending that will improve care for patients with kidney disease.

According to ANNA officials, the 2005 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 need for legislative reform has now become urgent due to the increasing numbers of patients with kidney disease," said ANNA President Suzann VanBuskirk, BSN, RN, CNN. "Legislators are recognizing this and we are offering them an ideal way to learn what is needed to save lives."

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.

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.

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 attributed in part 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.