I’ve been living with kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, for 33 years. That means my kidneys no longer effectively clean my blood and remove fluid from my body. Three times a week, for four hours at a time, I get dialysis where I’m hooked up to a machine that does the job of my kidneys.
For me and about 60,000 other Californians, receiving dialysis isn’t optional. Dialysis is literally our life.
That’s why I’m angry that unions in Sacramento are playing politics with my dialysis care.
United Healthcare Workers is trying to organize dialysis clinic workers and is bankrolling a campaign to pass Senate Bill 349. The bill mandates strict staffing ratios with no evidence that these mandatory staffing ratios will lead to improved patient care.
Doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals and other experts warn that SB349 will significantly reduce access to care for dialysis patients. If SB349 passes, it will impose costly and unnecessary staff increases that may force clinics to reduce the number of patients they treat. That means cutting shifts or appointment slots.
Clinics in low-income communities that treat large numbers of patients on Medicare or Medi-Cal are most likely to cut back shifts, or may be forced to close altogether.
SB349 will especially reduce or eliminate access to nighttime and evening shifts, which require less staff because patients treating at these times are typically healthier. If I lose my ability to dialyze in the evenings, I would be forced to treat during the day. I could lose my job and my ability to maintain a normal, productive life.
Demand for dialysis in California has jumped 62 percent in the last 10 years, and continues to grow steadily. Anything that reduces access to dialysis when demand is ballooning is dangerous for patients.
I’m not just a dialysis patient. I’m also a nephrology social worker, and I work at a dialysis clinic helping patients navigate the social services maze. I know that even the…