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.