If the science of xenotransplantation—using nonhuman organs and tissue in humans—progresses as hoped, all patients with life-threatening kidney conditions may one day benefit from transplants. But until then, most will be sustained by dialysis, a rigorous treatment that employs a machine to do the work of the kidneys, filtering toxins from the blood and removing excess fluid and salt. It’s a demanding regimen, usually required three times per week, with skilled supervision to mitigate potential complications.
Enter the dialysis program at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. Nationally recognized for its excellence, the program is certified by the 5-Diamond Patient Safety Program, which promotes quality and safety among institutions that treat kidney failure. Now in its fifth decade, the dialysis program, whose flagship site is located at the hospital’s main campus in Mineola, was the first hospital-based program of its kind on Long Island. Each year, its team provides about 52,000 dialysis treatments, some 48,000 in an outpatient or home setting and 4,000 in an inpatient setting. Thanks in part to an approved new technology that facilitates home dialysis, the program is currently expanding home treatments. “The attitude of our nursing team is one of the things that make our dialysis program special,” says Naveed N. Masani, MD, medical director of dialysis services at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island.
Of the nearly 800,000 people in the United States living with kidney failure, 71 percent are on dialysis and 29 percent have received a kidney transplant. As the population ages, the prevalence of this condition is soaring, with hypertension and diabetes accounting for most cases of kidney failure.
For Edward F. Smith, a 92-year-old dialysis patient at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, the program’s stellar nursing staff has been a lifesaver. Smith has received treatment for kidney failure at NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Bethpage since 2014. When a case of shingles left him so weak that he was unable to walk or care for himself without assistance, Smith relied heavily on the program’s nursing team and other staff during his treatments. “We took extra care to make sure he was safe at all times, bringing him to and from the car by wheelchair until he regained his strength,” says Francesca Babel, RN, clinical nurse manager.
Dr. Masani notes that unlike many dialysis programs, which rely on technicians to provide patient care, the one at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island is entirely “physician ordered and nurse driven.” This model, he reports, leads to better clinical outcomes than the national average because it goes above and beyond the standard level of care—and builds a stronger bridge to transplant. “At its best, dialysis is an extremely difficult adjustment for patients and their families,” explains Dr. Masani, assistant professor of medicine. “But if you’re one of our patients, and you qualify for a kidney transplant, you’re more than twice as likely to receive one, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”