Kidney dialysis is never an easy process, but after Torrance Memorial Medical
Center’s Lundquist Tower opened in 2014 it became less difficult
for some. One hundred twelve rooms in the building offer in-room dialysis,
which allows patients to receive the treatment from the comfort of their
own space and without leaving their families.
Chief of Staff Vinh Cam, MD, who is a nephrologist at Torrance Memorial,
says one of the main reasons the program is working so well is because
the dialysis RNs are employees of the hospital, rather than being outsourced
from external agencies.
“We have one nurse per patient in the room and [our nurses] aren’t
traveling between us and other hospitals,” Dr. Cam says. “We’re
priority one. Other hospitals might have to share hemodialysis nurses,
but we are fortunate enough to have our nurses available all the time
without much trouble at all. It’s awesome.”
Not only does the inpatient program give the opportunity for each patient
to have their own nurse, it also decreases the health and safety risks
associated with transporting patients to a dialysis unit and allows patients
to stay with their families and familiar doctors during treatment.
“Since the patients stay in their rooms, they have greater privacy,
are not transported and thus have less exposure to everything,”
says Sean Yokoe, RN, director of progressive care and hemodialysis. “Family
can stay with the patient in their room, when previously they couldn’t.
It gives the RNs more opportunity to provide education and support and
build a rapport with the patient and family.”
Yokoe adds that Torrance Memorial was supportive of the new model, offering
additional staffing and making the transition to one-on-one care seamless
for RNs and other staff. Equipped with special plumbing that allows dialysis
machines to be easily installed in the 112 rooms, the Lundquist Tower
allowed the nephrology unit to bring in the extra staff, including RNs
who specialize in dialysis, as well as dialysis technicians—experts
who deliver, set up and prepare the machines for nurses.
Dr. Cam says he believes other hospitals have felt compelled to improve
their dialysis programs because of Torrance Memorial’s success,
which has allowed patients suffering from a variety of kidney ailments
to remain comfortable in their own rooms, tended to by familiar doctors.
“We believe there’s been a push for improvement because of
what we’ve been doing here,” Dr. Cam says. “There have
been some instances where patients have been in other hospitals, but they
prefer to be in ours for many reasons, not just for dialysis.”