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Crisis De Salud: Chronic uncertainty

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Crisis De Salud: Chronic uncertainty

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Chronic uncertainty
This week ended the contract that guaranteed treatment to 33 renal/kidney patients. These were the last days of a struggle full of anxiety and distress.
Mundo Hispánico
Friday, September 3, 2010

It was ten o'clock, wet heat was hard to bear and the doctor Neil Shulman desperately shouted through a loudspeaker: "It is going to die! They are going to die!"

Around a dozen people nodded and looked at him with saddened eyes. Held in their hands banners reading: "Grady, Do not Let Them Die" (Grady, do not let them die!).

The group attracted the eyes of those who went in and out of Grady Hospital, which for more than a century has provided medical care to the poorest residents of the city of Atlanta.

In the morning of 26 August, the hospital was the center of the protest by a group calling not suspend treatment until August 31 Fresenius clinic should offer 33 former patients of the outpatient dialysis clinic Grady.

The hospital had paid the year of treatment with Fresenius as part of a pledge it made after closing its dialysis center last year.

While the group was protesting in downtown Atlanta, Fresenius clinic in North Druid Hills, Adolfo Sánchez, Rosa Lira and others of the 33 patients receiving dialysis treatment.

Connected to machines that clean your blood and help to eliminate toxins that your kidneys can not process, talking about football, climate and the future. They were concerned because they received a letter confirming that as of September 1 Grady will not pay for treatment.

"If we fail to respond, as we die," said Lira, a 78 year old Mexican who for two is a dialysis patient.

Doña Rosa knows very well that it is more clinging to life, if you do not receive treatment three times a week your body can not resist.

The only way out is to go to the emergency room with the hope that there's assistance. One option not recommended by doctors, for endangering the stability of the patient, but only for these 33 people.

"We're not going to give up; we have to address," said the Mexican mother of four, grandmother of 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


The situation of Mrs. Rosa and the other 32 patients made a full week groups were mobilized.

One day before the protest against Grady, a group led by members of The Grady Coalition and alternative organization called the president of Emory University, James W. Wagner, who took over this institution to provide treatment to 33 patients.

The protest began in front of the main entrance of the university. The group then went to Wagner's office to deliver a letter with your request.

Wagner was not but Gary Hauk, vice president of the university, received the letter.

During the conversation, which took place in a hallway, coalition members questioned the leadership of Emory University that provides medical staff at Grady Hospital.

"In this visit we have seen that they are spending too much money to build buildings and expand the university. Why not use some of that money to save the lives of these people? "Asked the Rev. Timothy McDonald, a member of The Grady Coalition, an organization that advocates for patients in the hospital.

"Not long ago the Dalai Lama spoke of compassion here at Emory. Where is the compassion? "Added the German physician Gunther Ruckel.

Hauk did not respond to these questions and would only say he knew that this was a sensitive issue and hoped to find a solution soon.

From there, the group went to the offices of Fresenius to ask the clinic to accept treat some patients. 

The distress is drawing to a close

The faith and patience were the main sources of hope for the group of former patients of the dialysis clinic at Grady who had to wait until the last minute to see whether they would receive the treatment they need to stay alive.

The days before the end of Grady Hospital's contract with Fresenius private clinic, which guaranteed the continued treatment of patients, were of great distress for advocates, patients and their families.

But on Sunday, August 28 all found a moment of peace in the Oakhurst Presbyterian Church.

During the church service, the congregation called for "clarity in the minds and hearts" of leaders who can provide a solution to the crisis called dialysis. There were songs, prayers and tears. All in English and Spanish.

"We are worried, but happy to be together. We are like a family, we know for many years, "said Adolfo Sanchez, one of the patients.

The meeting was organized by the lawyer of Advocates for Responsible Care, Lindsay Jones, who after the religious ceremony was addressed to patients to inform them of the latest developments.

The event was attended by DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, who was the chief sponsor of a series of meetings between different private providers of dialysis, in order that they are committed to treat patients after the end of the contract.

At the end of the meeting, Angel Lopez, one of the patients, took the microphone and summed up the feelings of many who were there.

"I want to thank everyone who helped us for this work so great," Lopez said. "I just live for these machines and God. I ask my colleagues who do not faint, they have faith in the Lord and not lose hope. "

Organizing and

Anabel Quintanilla, another patient had not lost hope. Days before the church service was confident that everything would be solved.

"My whole family is with Jesus in the mouth and can not believe that I'm so quiet. What do you do? What put me to mourn? "Said Quintanilla, 36.

However, your body does not copy the strength of his spirit. Red blood cell count has dropped, so as happened last year when the clinic closed. At that time became so serious that they had to hospitalize her. This time she is ready to control your emotions and continue their struggle.

"I will not give up. We've struggled a lot and I will not give up now, "he said.

In the end, so much struggle gave good results, at least for a while.

At a meeting hosted by Commissioner Johnson on Tuesday 31 August, Emory private providers of dialysis, Fresenius and DaVita, and Grady Hospital reached an agreement and together will give the 33 dialysis patients.

Up to press time had not tuned the details, but there was a commitment by all parties, as Dorothy Leone-Glasser, president of Advocates for Responsible Care, one of the organizations involved in the negotiations.

"This is a small victory, but we still have much work to do. Until we see the written plan and have the details, we must be cautious, "he said.

Although he remains optimistic, Leone-Glasser noted that the crisis is not over.

"We have to see what will happen to these patients long term," said the activist. "We have to think about all those people every week are being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and who will need dialysis for life. What will happen to them? ". 

Meet the patients

We all do, but there are patients who can not live a day without dialysis.

-Anabel Quintanilla, 36. 

My dream is to work and health. I do not want a lot of money, but it is in good health.

-Adolfo Sanchez, 32.

Do not abandon us, we are very poor. If we fail to respond, because we die.

-Rosa Lira, 78.

Listen out loud the history of these patients into MundoHispá

Linda Carolina Perez made this research as part of a project supported by The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship at USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Carolina Perez Linda wrote this story while Participating in The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.