News

Helping fellow patients live their best lives

On any given day, you might see Bob Crabtree teaching a class on how to make low-sodium sourdough bread as part of our CKD education program, leading an online support group for kidney patients, or presiding over a PSKC Foundation Board meeting to discuss ways to raise funds for PSKC and our patients. Recently retired from a 38- year career as a mechanic, Bob works tirelessly for people with kidney disease.

“Having a deadly chronic disease is terrifying to think about, let alone live,” he says. “If I had to deal with this alone, I’m not sure my outcome would have been as positive as it has.”

Diagnosed with polycystic kidneys as a child, Bob learned early on that his kidneys would likely fail in the future.“When you’re told at age 12 that you won’t live to see 50, you don’t take anything for granted.”

For Bob, education, preparation and the support of his family and friends were key in helping him manage his kidney disease, dialysis and eventual transplant. “My wife, Robin, along with my father and mother were very supportive. I was lucky to have a support system in place.”

Bob fondly remembers the support he received from a fellow patient during his first dialysis treatment—a simple act of kindness when he needed it most that ignited his lifelong desire to help other kidney patients. When asked why he works so hard, Bob says, “I’m happy to pay forward the gifts of kindness that have been given to me.”

March is National Kidney Month! See 7 simple ways to keep your kidneys healthy.

March is National Kidney Month and World Kidney Day is March 10, making this the perfect time to raise awareness about the role your kidneys play. Kidneys are such vital organs — they help rid your body of waste, control your blood pressure, balance electrolytes, and produce red blood cells, among many other things. When your kidneys fail, they can’t perform these essential functions, and you must undergo regular dialysis treatments or have a kidney transplant. The good news is, making simple lifestyle changes can help you avoid kidney problems and keep your kidneys healthy.

1. Watch your blood pressure. Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure under control — high blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease.

2. Manage your blood sugar. Diabetes is another leading cause of CKD. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many other problems as well, like heart disease, blood vessel disease, loss of limbs and blindness. If you have diabetes, make sure to control your blood sugar.

3. Quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk for kidney problems, as well as heart disease. Work with your doctor to find ways to help you quit smoking.

4. Exercise regularly. Exercise has so many benefits — it improves your mood, helps you maintain a healthy weight and helps controls your blood pressure. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day.

5. Follow a low sodium diet. Foods high in salt make your kidneys work extra hard. Try to avoid this by keeping your sodium intake to less than 2,000 milligrams per day. Cook at home whenever possible, as restaurant meals and ready meals from grocery stores are usually very high in salt.

6. Avoid over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If you have CKD, avoid anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, Advil and Motrin. Even if your kidneys are currently healthy, make sure to only use these medications minimally. Speak to your doctor if you plan to use these medications on a regular basis, as your kidney function should be checked first.

7. Ask your doctor for simple tests to check your kidney function. Simple blood and urine tests can be done to check your kidneys. Ask your doctor to check your kidney function at your next appointment.

Knowledge is power — take our risk quiz now to see if you’re at risk for chronic kidney disease.

If kidney disease runs in your family, or you have high blood pressure or diabetes, learn more about getting tested for kidney disease.

And make sure to follow us on on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for more tips on how to keep your kidneys healthy!

Low-sodium, kidney-friendly Super Bowl snacks

The Super Bowl is almost here! Whether you’re attending a Super Bowl party, hosting one yourself, or planning to watch on your own, making sure you have low-sodium, kidney-friendly food on hand when you tune in is a must. We’ve all been to parties and events before where there is limited kidney-friendly food, and the only way to mediate that is to bring your own! Here are some of our favorite, low-sodium Super Bowl snacks for all to enjoy.

Thai Shrimp Kebabs

Thai shrimp kebabsShrimp and veggie kebabs – what could be better? These shrimp skewers are the perfect protein item, bringing just the right amount of spice.

Chili Lime Dip With Veggies

Chili Lime DipA dip is a great way to get those veggies in. This one’s a crowd pleaser, a zesty, ideal companion for carrots, celery, or other raw vegetables.

Chicken ‘n’ Grape Salad Sandwich

One thing’s for sure – the Super Bowl can be long! Having something substantial on the menu, like this delicious chicken sandwich, ensures you and your guests get some much-needed protein.

Fruit Salad with Honey, Mint and Lime

Just because it’s a Super Bowl, doesn’t mean every snack has to be savory. This fruit salad is sure to bring a sweet, fresh vibe to your party.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars

Packed with protein, these peanut butter bars are so easy to make and will keep you going all game long!

What are your favorite low-sodium snacks? Let us know! Share your favorite snacks with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Evolution of Life-Saving Dialysis

Kathy Harvey

Kathy Harvey
Director, Renal Nutritional Services

In 1980, I was working as a new dietitian in Seattle at one of the very few dialysis centers in the Northwest. My patients traveled from all over the Puget Sound to get their dialysis treatments, coming from Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties. I remember one patient who drove down Whidbey Island, took the ferry and then drove into Seattle for dialysis. The journey took all day, she did it three days each week, and it was totally exhausting for her and her husband!

When the people of Snohomish County suggested building a dialysis clinic nearby, the Seattle provider offered to open one in that area. But the locals said “no thank you, we want our own.” They worked together to gather community support and funding from local businesses, the State of Washington and the federal government. In April 1981, Puget Sound Kidney Centers was open for business.

From the beginning, PSKC had a reputation for being innovative and independent. Because it was community based, small and locally managed, its staff could quickly research, discuss and make decisions about dialysis treatments, therapies and medications. When I toured the clinic in those early days, I was impressed by the newer, more efficient dialysis machines and water treatment system. The clinical practices and policies were also cutting edge. PSKC seemed to go above and beyond to provide the best patient care. They didn’t wait to follow the leader—they became the leader.

Naturally, when I was offered the opportunity to join PSKC in 2001, I was thrilled since I had always admired the organization. One of the first things I recognized was how smoothly things got done, especially when it came to bringing in a new therapy. It was researched and discussed by many, with medical staff, clinic staff and patients giving their opinions, but the final decision always focused on “patients first.”

After my 20 years here, PSKC continues to provide cutting-edge dialysis services and treatments. Due to generous donations and grants, it is one of the only providers to offer free nutrition supplements to patients in need. PSKC’s education program ‘Survive and Thrive’ uniquely targets people with early-stage kidney disease, teaching them how to stay healthy and keep their kidneys working. After all these years at PSKC, I can still say I am proud to be part of this great team and privileged to work with the brave dialysis patients who choose to live every day.

How one patient’s love of sports impacts the health of his community

Top to bottom: Jon today, Jon circa 1983, and Jon with his family.

Meet Jon. M—Jon dialyzes at our Smokey Point Kidney Center and has been coaching basketball, football and baseball since he was 16 years old. At age 4, Jon was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He credits his love of sports and his participation in sports for making such a difference in his health.

“I know I am still alive because I ran so much playing basketball,” he says.

Jon has lived his entire life in the Tulalip area and still has a hand in coaching the Tulalip Men’s baseball team, even travelling with them recently for a tournament. Players on the team range in age from 17 to 55 and while his son is “officially” their coach, Jon provides input whenever and wherever needed.

He also stays active by attending local games whenever he gets a chance—he recently went to see the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Mariners, and has also gone to see the Everett Silvertips and Aquasox, despite his busy dialysis schedule.

Jon’s coaching experience started when he was the assistant to the Parks and Recreation Department of the Tulalip Tribes—he had a knack for getting kids into sports, even if they were hesitant at first.

“At one point I had 50 kids show up, and I got every one of them involved in some way.”

Jon stopped actively playing when he was in his late thirties and made coaching his focus—he’s since coached basketball, football and baseball teams, proud that they’ve played some of the best teams in the area and even if they did not win, they always kept it close and competitive.

Jon’s impressed with the Tulalip Tribe’s focus in recent years on building new venues for sports, like baseball and football fields with Astroturf, a step up from the muddy fields where Jon played growing up. Jon also has another interest; his 10-year-old grandson has just started playing basketball. The legacy continues!

A passion for supporting patients: volunteers go above and beyond

When Jeanette Revoir was looking to volunteer for a community organization, a friend invited her to the annual spring social put on by the Kidney Auxiliary of Puget Sound. She remembers taking a flyer at the event to learn more about the organization that raises money to help patients at Puget Sound Kidney Centers. 16 years later, her everlasting dedication continues to make a positive difference in the lives of PSKC patients.

Jeanette Revoir and Michael Himple.

“Being a member of KAPS and supporting patients needing kidney dialysis at PSKC has been a very rewarding life experience for me,” says Jeanette.

Jeanette and her family have been a part of the community here for years. Her parents immigrated from Holland to Everett, where Jeanette was born and raised. Her parents owned and operated a well-known bakery called Broadway Bakery and the family built a wonderful life together in Everett. That sense of community stayed with Jeanette as she raised a family, built a banking career and volunteered with KAPS. Jeanette joined the board of KAPS and currently serves as Treasurer. Over the years she has led and supported the KAPS’ wreath program, spring social and the Gift of Life annual fundraiser. She even recruited her granddaughter Trinity to help with the wreath program.

“I guess you could say I jumped in with both feet!” she jokingly reflects, and when asked what keeps her going, she says, “knowing I’m really helping people.”

In addition to working with KAPS, Jeanette, along with husband Michael, share a love for family, friends, travel and golf.

Thank you, Jeanette, for all you do in support of PSKC patients!

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!

Fall into flavor! These kidney-friendly recipes are perfect this time of year

Fall has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and we couldn’t be more excited. With the crisp, clean air and changing color of leaves, it’s time to dust off those autumnal meals. Tired of all your old favorites? Don’t despair – we recently added some scrumptious new recipes to the recipe section of our website, delicious, low-sodium recipes that suit most kidney diets. These recipes were developed by Chef Duane Sunwold who has chronic kidney disease and understands firsthand the importance of creating tasty food that follows the kidney diet. As always, check with your doctor to make sure these recipes are OK for you and if they are, enjoy their bright, tasty flavors!

 

Ranch Dip

Most store-bought ranch dressings and dips are packed with salt. This recipe for ranch blend cuts the salt but not the flavor and is ideal for mixing with Greek yogurt, sour cream or mayonnaise to create ranch dip. Slice up some veggies and you’re good to go!

 

Roasted Cauliflower, Carrots & Onions

Roast these vegetables in the oven or on the barbecue – they’re delicious either way! Roasting vegetables adds flavor without adding salt and is a great way to add texture to meals. Pro tip: when preparing this dish, chop extra vegetables up and pop them in the freezer to make future meal prep even easier. Check out the full roasted cauliflower, carrots and onions recipe and give it a try sometime soon.

 

Creamy Lemon Salmon Pasta


This citrusy pasta dish is light and bright and, with a vegetable and protein mixed in, has everything you need for a complete meal. Plus, it’s simple to make – just nine ingredients, most of them likely in your pantry already. Check out the full creamy lemon salmon pasta recipe today and give it a try.

 

What recipes do you like best this time of year? We’d love to hear them — share your ideas with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.