CKD education program adapts to reach more people with kidney disease

CKD education program adapts to reach more people with kidney disease

Sara Prato and Michelle Rowlett, members of our CKD team, and Bob Crabtree from The Road Back to Life hold virtual classes to educate members of the community about chronic kidney disease.

Our very popular Chronic Kidney Disease Survive and Thrive program—which reaches people at many stages of CKD as well as those at risk for it—had planned a major expansion to new communities in 2020. But as we began to roll out the program, plans were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next few months, we transitioned Survive and Thrive to an all-virtual format, ensuring that CKD education would be available to those who need it.

Our web-based virtual program went live in June 2020 and became an immediate success. From June to December 2020, we offered 23 classes (two six-week sessions, five check-in classes and six community classes), attended by 214 people from throughout the Puget Sound region. In the classes, we provided extra learning materials—handouts, recipes and giveaways—to foster a sense of connection between instructors, the virtual classroom and participants at home. Class surveys show that attendees are increasing their knowledge of CKD, learning new lifestyle behaviors to protect their kidneys and working to stay as healthy as possible. An incredible 100% of those attending said they would recommend the program to others!

In 2020, our education team also created a series of videos to support online learning. As we move further into 2021, we plan to continue to expand our virtual program. Our hope is to provide in-person classes again when it is safe to do so but also continue with our virtual format, for those who prefer to learn in the comfort of their homes.

It’s easier than ever to learn more about kidney care through one of our online classes. Register for one of our upcoming classes at www.pskc.net/classes. Wondering which one to sign up for? Survive and Thrive is a six-week program for people with chronic kidney disease stages 2 to 4. By focusing on healthy lifestyle behaviors to protect and stabilize kidney function, the goal of this program is to help people learn lifestyle changes they can make now to help protect their kidneys. For people with chronic kidney disease stages 4 to 5, who will soon start treatment, we offer our Healthy Options classes. In this two-week program, you will learn more about treatment options and to feel better prepared when treatment starts. Family and friends are welcome to join you in either of these programs.

Our Community Classes are for anyone who wants to learn more about how kidneys work, healthy eating and other ways to protect your kidney function.

Learn more and register online at www.pskc.net/classes!

March is National Kidney Month!

One of our free, virtual ‘Survive and Thrive’ classes about chronic kidney disease. Sign up for ​classes at www.pskc.net/classes.

March is National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness of kidney disease. Learn more about chronic kidney disease — commonly called CKD — and just how vital your kidneys are in making your body function.

What kidneys do

Kidneys filter blood and remove waste. They also control blood pressure, produce red blood cells, balance electrolytes, and help you maintain healthy bones and a normal pH level.

One fifth of the blood pumped by your heart goes to the kidneys, where it is processed and filtered. Excess water, salt, minerals and waste are sent to the bladder as urine and ‘clean’ blood is returned to circulation. It takes just five minutes for all of your blood to be filtered by the kidney which means in 24 hours, your kidneys will filter all of your blood 288 times!

Watch the video below to learn more about these incredible organs.

About chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease happens when your kidneys lose function over time. Although chronic kidney disease is irreversible, it can be slowed. If your kidney function drops to a certain level, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary.

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. Other causes of CKD include inherited diseases, inflammatory diseases and infections.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

1. Keep your salt intake to a minimum. Foods high in salt can put a strain on your kidneys. Try to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,000 milligrams per day. Avoid high-sodium restaurant meals and processed foods. Instead, make meals at home, with healthy ingredients.

2. Watch your blood pressure. Controlling your blood pressure is the single most important thing you can do to help prolong the life of your kidneys.

3. Stop smoking. Smoking substantially increases your risk for all kidney-related problems, including heart disease.

4. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugars. For more than 40 percent of people with kidney failure, diabetes is the cause. Work with your doctor to help control your blood sugar.

5. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and controls your blood pressure. Walking, light weights, yoga, gardening — all of these are great ways to get exercise.

6. Avoid over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If you have chronic kidney disease, avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, Advil and Motrin. If you do not have chronic kidney disease, use these medications only as needed.

7. Have your kidneys checked on a regular basis. Kidney disease is often silent, showing no symptoms until you approach the need for dialysis or transplantation. Having your kidneys checked on a regular basis can help identify problems earlier.

Learn more ways to keep your kidneys healthy

Interested in learning more about kidney health? Consider taking one of our free classes! Our virtual classes include one-hour free webinars on kidney health eating, exercising and more. Visit www.pskc.net/classes to sign up for one of our upcoming sessions!

A dedication to helping others

Kidney failure did not come as a surprise for Richard Beach; almost 25 years ago, he was told that his kidneys had begun deteriorating and that one day, he might need treatment. He closely monitored his creatinine levels and was able to put that off for many years.

About two years ago, to learn more about kidney disease and how to live well with it, Richard and his wife attended Puget Sound Kidney Centers’ chronic kidney disease education program, Survive and Thrive. He describes this six-week program as “very concise” and a great way to reteach them how to menu plan, shop, and prepare foods that were tailored to their health needs and, helpfully, how to “cut corners with salt.” Richard really appreciated the PSKC program, taught by various medical professionals, especially the level of detail provided and the amount of time allotted for discussion each week—talking through examples and experiences other patients have had really helped reinforce the impact changing behaviors can have.

Richard is currently retired from the Air Force and a phone company but continues to volunteer his time as a critical member of the Snohomish County Emergency Management team, developing and implementing radio communication for natural disasters, including earthquakes, fires, floods. The team prepares for any situation that communication may be compromised (i.e. loss of internet) so that emergency services can continue to operate and provide help to those who need it. They also look at ways of linking with other networks on the state and federal level, so that key information regarding events can be handled appropriately. He is part of a core group of volunteers who, up until the coronavirus pandemic, were meeting twice a week at Paine Field in Everett. They now still meet once a week but hope to ramp back up in the near future.

These days, Richard dialyzes at Puget Sound Kidney Centers’ Mountlake Terrace facility, having started a couple of months ago, and is feeling better already. Richard, we certainly hope we won’t need your radio skills, though we’re sure glad that you and your team are there in an emergency!