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Recapping our March 2024 Council Conversation: Dialysis + Transportation




For our most recent Council Conversation, we convened experts, policymakers, providers, and others to discuss the pressing transportation challenges faced by dialysis patients in Oregon and Washington. The dialogue shed light on the barriers patients encounter in accessing reliable transportation to their dialysis appointments, as well as potential solutions to address these issues. Here's a recap of the insightful discussion featuring key quotes from the panelists.

 

Jen Martinek, Strategic Business Care Manager, Care Oregon:

"For the most common transportation challenges, it's really reliability between the providers and finding transportation that's covered by insurance."




 Jere Rodman, Social Worker (LCSW), DaVita Kidney Care:


"Distances here in Lewis County, my worst-case scenario was 100 miles one way. That's incredible for a patient who has to self-drive because there's no family member, there's no support."



Hailey Smith, Social Work Manager (LCSW), Fresenius:


"A lot of our patients can't afford to pay for their own transportation in general. If it's not covered, they'll often not have any transport at all and will miss dialysis treatments."



Exploring Transportation Challenges:

 

Jen Martinek highlighted the critical need for transportation for dialysis patients, emphasizing the lack of resources available to many individuals. "Transportation is key for a lot of folks if they don't have those transportation resources. This is where those Medicaid programs come into play to help support those folks that don't have access to resources that sometimes other people take for granted."

 

Jere Rodman elaborated on the significant hurdles faced by patients in rural areas, including long distances to dialysis centers and limited transportation options. "Number one (issue) in my area is Medicaid, non-emergency medical contractors not picking up or abandoning a patient at 10 o'clock at night."

 

Innovative Solutions and Initiatives:

 

Jen Martinek discussed the potential role of technology in addressing transportation challenges, mentioning a pilot program exploring partnerships with transportation network companies. "We're definitely interested in tapping into that resource. We just need to make sure that we're doing this in a way that doesn't also compromise patient safety."

 

Jere Rodman highlighted existing programs like the American Kidney Fund safety grants, which provide crucial support for patients' transportation needs.

 

Raising Awareness and Advocacy:

 

Hailey Smith emphasized the importance of patient advocacy and self-advocacy in navigating transportation issues. "A lot of it, too, was putting it in the patient's hands to call the places and say, 'There's no rides. What can you give me?' Having that self-advocacy and determination."

 

Hailey also stressed the need for increased awareness of available transportation resources among patients and healthcare providers. "We have flyers and handouts and some brochures and stuff like that that we can give to patients to decide who they want to go with, but it is about who has the availability transportation-wise."

 

Looking Ahead:

 

As the conversation concluded, participants emphasized the need for continued collaboration among healthcare providers, policymakers, and transportation companies to ensure access to life-saving treatments for dialysis patients. By amplifying the voices of patients and experts alike, initiatives can be developed and implemented to create a more equitable and accessible transportation system for all dialysis patients in the region.



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