“Nobody likes needles,” Joy Barringer, RN, says matter of fact.
It’s the biggest hurdle she faces as she explains home dialysis options to new patients.
Joy manages a Satellite WellBound center in Memphis. It’s an unassuming storefront location in a strip mall, but it’s ground zero in the battle to educate both patients and doctors about what Satellite home dialysis can do for them.
She says she takes a long view in convincing patients they can manage their own care at home. “It’s not one conversation,” she explains.
To assuage them, she talks about sharp needles and more rounded tip needles. She offers numbing cream and encouraging words about the benefits of home dialysis.
Too often, the bias of the nurse educator is a factor, she explained. Pointing patients to peritoneal dialysis is the right first step for many patients, but that decision shouldn’t be made because the needle conversation is too hard or because PD training is quicker.
Educating doctors also requires a long view.
“It’s all a matter of building trust,” she says.
It starts with getting Nephrologists to understand the process of home dialysis and to take a look at what Satellite’s personalized approach is offering patients.
She and her team offer seminars and lunch-and-learn sessions where they outline the training, and representatives of the equipment manufacturers explain the technology. Doctors get a look at the center and see the training first-hand.
It’s an important step, Joy says, but nothing beats a testimonial from a satisfied and educated patient. When patients value the care they receive and the way they’re being treated, they tell their doctor. That gives the doctor confidence that referring patients to Satellite Healthcare is a wise decision, she explained.
Joy has spent a large part of her career working with dialysis patients.
After 15 years as a hospital nurse, Joy came to the realization that dialysis patients are special.
“They’re partners in their own care,” she said. “I’ve always clicked with dialysis patients.”
So, when the opportunity to join Satellite Healthcare came her way, she eagerly signed on.
Now, five years later, she’s manager of a center that serves about 85 patients, making it one of the largest in the region. But no one is receiving dialysis in her center. No, those chairs are reserved for training patients in doing their own home therapy.
The training is exhaustive, covering all the dos, don’ts and what ifs. Patients preparing for peritoneal dialysis usually can learn the procedure in less than two weeks. Those preparing for home hemodialysis receive one to two months of training.
In her center, her team of six full-time nurse educators doesn’t take the easy route. They treat every patient as an individual with unique goals and challenges. And when a patient is ready, they will help them graduate to home hemodialysis.
The approach is working. The center started with fewer than 20 patients and has grown steadily as word spread. Now, referrals are growing so quickly Joy hired two new nurse-educators this summer.
The five training rooms are constantly in use as patients learn the techniques that give them more control over their dialysis and more control over their lives.
It’s a win-win, Joy said, and that makes her smile.
Joy Barringer, RN, is the Clinical Manager at Satellite Healthcare’s WellBound Home Dialysis Center in Memphis, Tennessee.