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South Texas residents have one of the highest rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the country, and like many who are at-risk or living with kidney disease, they are largely unaware of their condition. Diabetes, the leading cause of CKD, is prevalent in this region where Hispanics comprise 39 percent of the state’s population. Hispanic people are also more vulnerable to diabetes due to genetics—they are about 1.5 times more likely to develop End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) than non-Hispanics.
Dr. Adam Bingaman, head of the live-donor kidney transplant program at Methodist Specialist and Transplant Hospital, says Texas presents a unique challenge because of its broad and ethnically-diverse population and because it comprises a very large geographic area with many rural areas that are medically-underserved.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF), through its partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX), is making great strides in expanding its services in these rural areas where resources are limited and quality healthcare is a challenge. Through its KEEP (Kidney Early Evaluation Program) Healthy Program, NKF tripled its previous efforts and screened more than 3,000 Texans in the past year. Many of those screenings were in areas most in need such as Laredo, Texas, a continuing focal point for the KEEP screenings.
Results of those screenings confirmed NKF and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases statistics showing 1 in 3 Americans is at risk for CKD and 1 in 7 Americans has the disease and doesn’t even know it.
The free KEEP screenings, the centerpiece of NKF’s fight against CKD, also include preliminary medical consultation and educational resources. Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure checks, along with urine testing, help to identify those at risk. In South Texas, bilingual resources and a follow-up care coordination network are provided to make it easier for residents to take control of their health and the health of their families.
NKF’s presence and impact in Laredo and other communities around the state will be further enhanced by a recently announced collaboration with the Caring Foundation of Texas. Through its partnership with BCBSTX, NKF was granted the use of a Care Van for its screening and educational efforts around the state. The Care Van enables travel, medical supply storage and service to Texas communities that is accessible, affordable and possible. Through this collaboration, NKF is now able to reach additional populations and communities across Texas.
The fight against CKD is an uphill journey. The NKF, working with its partners, continues to go where it is most needed to ensure that all Texans have the benefit of good health and great healthcare.
NKF is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of CKD. NKF, a major, voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by CKD, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.
Fueled by passion and urgency, NKF is a lifeline for all people affected by CKD. As pioneers of scientific research and innovation, NKF focuses on the whole patient through the lens of kidney health. Relentless in its work, NKF enhances lives through action, education and accelerating change.
For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.
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