What Dialysis Patients Should Know about COVID-19


Dawn Thomas is the Divisional Vice President for DaVita Kidney Care.

Tell us about your organization.
DaVita is a health care provider focused on transforming care delivery to improve quality of life for patients globally. The company is one of the largest providers of kidney care services in the U.S. and has been a leader in clinical quality and innovation for more than 20 years.

What communities do you serve? 
As of September 30, 2020, DaVita served 205,300 patients at 2,809 outpatient dialysis centers across the United States. The company also operates 291 outpatient dialysis centers in nine countries worldwide.

What populations do you serve?
Through DaVita Kidney Care, the company treats patients with chronic kidney failure and end stage kidney disease.

Why did you decide to join the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance?
The IKCA’s mission-driven efforts are in line with the work that my teammates at DaVita and I strive to engage in: we try to continue making a positive difference in the lives of all patients with kidney failure.

What do you hope the alliance accomplishes?
Putting patients with kidney disease first is core to the IKCA’s work. I hope that the alliance continues to do that through advocacy that removes barriers, and encourages policies that underscore patient choice and expanding access to the benefits of care coordination.

What policy changes do those living with kidney disease need now?
All patients with kidney disease should have access to the benefits of coordinated care, which can help them better manage their kidney and non-kidney care needs. Our patients often have multiple chronic conditions in addition to kidney disease, and they may have to take up to 21 pills a day. Having a dedicated resource who can help them manage and coordinate their care plans between physician specialists has been successful in helping improve patient outcomes, enhance patient experience, and reduce the total cost of care.

What can lawmakers do to help those with kidney disease?
They can advocate for legislation that maintains patients’ access to high-quality care and expands opportunities for patients to receive coordinated care.

What is something most people don’t know about dialysis/kidney disease?
Being diagnosed with kidney disease, especially in the later stages, can be tough. Managing kidney disease may require patients to change their behavior in a multitude of ways, such as: following new diet and nutrition recommendations, deciding which treatment option fits their unique lifestyle, or how to juggle work and dialysis. Also, the realization that a vital organ is failing (or has failed) can be overwhelming and the need to manage mental health can become more pronounced.

If you can share one story about the work you and your organization do, what would it be?

Recently, we shared a story of encouragement and strength between an Indianapolis dialysis social worker and a patient who dreamed of getting a kidney transplant. This is the perfect example of how DaVita and our teammates do more to support and advocate for our patients.