By Kasia Michalik
On Monday, August 6, the 10th annual Kidney Disease Awareness and Education (KDAE) Week will kick-off. The American Nephrology Nurse's Association (ANNA) began this event with a purpose to educate policymakers, as well as their staff, on the risks, needs and changes that need to occur in regards to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients.
The event started in 2003 as ESRD Education Day, by Nancy Sharp, and in 2005 it expanded to be a week-long event in order for more lawmakers to visit facilities across the country. The original event was so popular that ANNA decided to expand it in order to accommodate different schedules.
"ANNA is very involved in advocacy efforts in Washington, and ANNA's leaders wanted to help the legislators make more informed decisions when it came to legislation regarding kidney disease, especially reimbursement for dialysis treatment," said Janet D'Alesandro, communications director for Anthony J. Jannetti.
The goal for nurses around the country is to provide and educate policymakers during this event so they can do their job as well as possible.
"No one knows the subject better than nephrology nurses," Cyrena Gilman, KDAE Week advisor said. "Educating patients and family members is part of every nephrology nurse's job description, so we are in the best position to educate policy makers."
ANNA encourage all their members to invite Congressional delegations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) staff, ESRD regional office staff, and local and regulatory agency staff to their facilities for an educational visit.
"These might include hemodialysis units, both in hospital and free-standing, acute and chronic, peritoneal dialysis clinics, vascular access clinics, transplant units, chronic kidney disease clinics and KEEP programs," Gilman said.
Nurses will provide tours, discuss treatment plans, patient issues and hot topics revolving around legislation. In addition to the nurses taking part, lawmakers also take part in the event and speak to patients on the up-to-date happening concerning ESRD.
Majority of the events will be held and arranged by ANNA members at the local level but non-members are encouraged to participate in educating as well.
"As the League of Women Voters says, 'Democracy is not a spectator sport.' All citizens can certainly invite their respective policy makers to visit their workplaces and can share their concerns about relevant issues," Gilman said.