What Dialysis Patients Should Know about COVID-19


Teri Gurchiek is the Group Vice President of Operations at Fresenius Kidney Care North America.

Tell us about your organization and the work you do there.

Fresenius Kidney Care is the worldwide leader in the treatment of renal disease and an innovative leader in kidney disease research. Serving over 190,000 patients in over 2,400 facilities nationwide, our care teams are dedicated to helping people thrive on dialysis and live longer, healthier lives. In Illinois, FKC operates 163 dialysis clinics, serving nearly 11,000 people with kidney failure. Fresenius Kidney Care operates 163 dialysis clinics in Illinois, serving nearly 11,000 people with kidney failure.

What communities do you serve? 

Our clinics are located across the state, and we have more clinics located in medically underserved areas than any other dialysis provider. This is important because transportation is a barrier to getting adequate dialysis treatments. The closer people are to their dialysis clinics, the fewer treatments they miss.

What populations do you serve?

We serve people of all ages with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), otherwise known as kidney failure.

Why did you decide to join the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance?

We believe an alliance of diverse organizations coming together as one is important to elevate the needs of people with kidney disease. That’s why we’ve reached out to state legislators and other policymakers.

What do you hope the alliance accomplishes?

We hope the alliance will serve as the statewide “go-to” entity when people have questions about kidney disease. The diverse range of organizations represented can provide everything from education to advocacy in order to meet the needs of people with kidney disease.

What policy changes do those living with kidney disease need now?

We would like Illinois to become a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact. So far, over 40 of our FKC dialysis nurses from other states have come to Illinois to help in our clinics during spikes of COVID-19. The temporary nurse licensure application put in place by the state has helped greatly, but being a member of the NLC would help even more.

What can lawmakers do to help those with kidney disease?

Visit a dialysis clinic in their district to learn more about dialysis and your constituents receiving this treatment. We offer virtual dialysis clinic tours due to our ban on visitors during COVID-19.

What is something most people don’t know about dialysis/kidney disease?

One in seven Americans is currently living with chronic kidney disease and many don’t even know it. This is why it is so important that we work with organizations like IKCA to help educate the public.

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

To keep dialysis patients safe during COVID-19, we opened specific dialysis treatment shifts or whole clinics as isolation areas to dialyze patients who have tested positive. Dialysis is not optional, so our patients have to receive their treatments. We have also encouraged more of our dialysis patients to learn how to do their own dialysis in their homes.