On Jan. 8, 1962, Northwest Kidney Centers opened its doors as the world’s first out-of-hospital dialysis program. The organization had one clinic — in the basement of Swedish Hospital’s Eklind Hall in Seattle — with just three beds. Now, 55 years later, our organization serves nearly 1,700 patients, at home, in 15 clinics and nine hospitals, and it provides more than 250,000 dialysis treatments each year.
Longtime members of our community memories of earlier days
It’s often said that it is people who make an organization great, and Northwest Kidney Centers is no exception. Many talented and dedicated people have helped shape our organization over the years, coming together to make sure people with kidney disease in our community receive the very best care. Watch the full oral history video series now to hear from them, or keep reading for links to a few of our favorites.
About the oral history video collection
Our new oral history video collection features 14 dedicated people — long-term staff members, patients, doctors and supporters who have helped make Northwest Kidney Centers what it is today.
Hear JoAnn Albers, Northwest Kidney Centers’ first dialysis nurse, talk about how the organization was run when it opened in 1962, memorable patients and the most important thing nurses should consider when caring for dialysis patients.
Listen to Jack Cole talk about his work on Dr. Belding Scribner’s small research team to fine-tune the Scribner shunt, which made long-term dialysis possible. Jack tells how the team made quick adjustments on the fly to novel dialysis equipment, and the unusual career choice that led him to dialysis research in the first place.
Watch nephrologist Dr. Bob Hegstrom recall the troubled, sleepless nights that led to Dr. Belding Scribner’s breakthrough, and what it was like to treat Clyde Shields, the first patient on long-term dialysis.
Hear Sharon Pahlka, a life coach and motivational speaker who was on dialysis for 20 years, talk about doing dialysis at home while her 6-year-old son read and played beside her. She never let kidney failure dampen her appetite for adventure.
Listen to Susan Vukich talk about training in 1964 to give her daughter dialysis at home — something no parent had done before her. Her daughter, Caroline Helm, was the world’s first home dialysis patient.
Celebrating our past and looking ahead to the future
A big thank you to everyone who shared their stories! Watch all videos in our oral history collection to learn more about changes over the decades and Northwest Kidney Centers’ one constant — putting the patient first.
“As we celebrate Northwest Kidney Centers’ 55 years of service, we thank all those who have trusted us to provide health care for them and we honor the leaders who preceded us,” said Joyce F. Jackson, president and CEO. “We are determined that coming decades will see breakthroughs in optimizing health, independence and quality of life for our patients, and for people with kidney disease across the country and around the world.”