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Portage Dialysis Center: Making Dialysis Patients Feel Right At Home

American Renal Associates celebrated the opening of the Portage Dialysis Center some months back and, since that opening, the doctors and staff on hand at the Center have worked tirelessly to see that home and in-center dialysis patients get the best care available in Northwest Indiana

The Portage Dialysis Center is one of several clinics to be opened recently by American Renal Associates, whose presence is growing quickly across the region.

“We’re the fourth clinic opened by ARA and the physicians, combined,” said Christy Amburgey, RN and Clinic Manager at the Portage Dialysis Center.

“Here we have the largest home program out of the four clinics,” Amburgey said. “The physicians are really focused on home dialysis. We have four exam rooms here with an independent nurses station. This allows more patients to be seen and trained in home dialysis.”

In-center, the Portage Dialysis Center is a 17 chair facility which is open six days every week.

“For in-center, we usually have two groups of patients who come on either Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” Amburgey said. “We have four RN’s and six patient care technicians here and with growth we’re continuously adding new staff.”

Any staff that Amburgey and the Portage Dialysis Center brings in has experience working in the field of nephrology and with dialysis patients.

“All of our staff come in with experience and that’s good for our patients because they like to know,” Amburgey said. “The one thing that’s different is that, as an experienced staff, we all have worked with the physicians previously. When we heard about ARA opening, because this physician group is very knowledgeable and trustworthy, we all had a sense of how they took care of their patients and that’s why we decided to come here.”

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ARA, and the Portage Dialysis Center, operates their facility around patient-centered care guidelines which Amburgey values a great deal.

“It’s not like a big corporation,” she said. “We have much more freedom here, we can make decisions at the ground level and we’re providing a better outcome for our patients.”

For Amburgey, and her fellow nurses and technicians, working in dialysis allows them to work more closely with patients than they would be able to otherwise.

“That’s why we all get into dialysis,” she said. “You can really get to know your patients. When someone finds out that their kidneys aren’t working, usually even though they know it’s coming, starting dialysis is a complete life-altering event. We’re trying to make this whole life-altering event more comfortable for the patients.”

“When I went into nursing I always wanted to be in a field where I got to see patients all the time. When they come to dialysis I know their children’s names and what grade they are in. I see them walk in the door and can tell if something is wrong because I see them three days a week. I have the time here to educate them if I see that their lab values are off. If we were in a hospital you might see them for a week and then never again. What I do here, I get to see the outcomes and we’re constantly discussing what we can do to make their outcomes better.”

Having a new facility means that the physicians and staff at the Portage Dialysis Center was able to implement certain comforts that were geared towards making their patient's’ visits more enjoyable. Things like TV’s, fireplaces and, as requested by Dr. Pampalone, a large fish tank and personal touches help to make the Center feel more like home.

“Making sure we have the best staff, that we educate patients and their family, and that we make them feel comfortable with everything that we’re doing is so important,” Amburgey concluded. “We’re trying to create a new standard for dialysis here and there’s always room for improvement to make our patient’s treatment better than it was last time.”

“Our physicians here really do care. It’s not really a choice for our patients to have to come here so, if we can, we’re going to do our best to make it as comfortable as possible.”

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