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Reflecting on Another Powerful Dialysis Clinic Tour: Chehalis, WA

This week, the Northwest Kidney Council team traveled to Chehalis, WA to tour a Fresenius dialysis center with state Representatives Ed Orcutt and Peter Abbarno. This visit — like our other recent tours — provided a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the vital work being done to support patients with kidney disease, as well as to discuss the challenges faced by the dedicated staff.


Insights from Management


Our tour began with a conversation in the clinic’s conference room with facility managers, the elected officials, and other Fresenius representatives. We discussed workforce issues, specifically a yearlong social worker vacancy in the clinic and struggles to fill three nursing positions (although hopefully clinics will begin to see relief due to the social worker licensure compact and other legislation from this past session). However, in good news, the clinic recently formalized a partnership with the local community college to better build out the pipeline of registered nurses. Clinic managers also spoke to recent logistical issues — like a water leak in a neighboring clinic and a patient having to hitchhike from her home to the center — as examples of the problems they face regularly.


Clinic leadership also stressed the importance of policy support and funding in maintaining and improving the critical services they provide to their community.


Conversations with the Care Team


Next, we had the opportunity to speak with the nurses and dietitians who form the backbone of the clinic. Their dedication to patient care was evident in every conversation, often helping patients decide whether in-center or home hemodialysis is a better option for them based on their living situations and proximity to the clinic. Some described the emotional bonds they form with patients, noting how the personalized care plans help address both medical and emotional needs.


The clinic dietitian — who also serves other clinics in the area — elaborated on the tailored dietary plans she creates for patients, emphasizing the importance of nutrition in managing kidney disease. Her passion for educating patients about their dietary choices was inspiring and highlighted the multifaceted approach required in kidney care.


Engaging with the Patients


One of the highlights of the tour was getting to walk through the treatment floor to see patients receiving dialysis. It’s a demanding treatment regimen — four hours, three times a week — but the care and expertise from the nurses was so evident. We were fortunate to meet and spend time with one patient who has been coming to the clinic for several months now, who expressed her appreciation for the support she receives in-center, especially after her husband passed (who had also been a regular patient at the clinic for 17 years prior to his passing).


Legislative Support and Future Initiatives


Representatives Ed Orcutt and Peter Abbarno were actively engaged throughout the tour, asking insightful questions and expressing their support for the clinic's work. They acknowledged the importance of such facilities in rural areas and committed to advocating for policies that support kidney care services.


Their visit underscored the significance of legislative backing in the fight against kidney disease. The Northwest Kidney Council looks forward to continuing our collaboration with policymakers to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.


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