Pioneering dialysis nurse Connie Anderson retires from Northwest Kidney Centers after four decades of shaping dialysis practice

Seattle, WA (June 26, 2018) — Connie Anderson, a national leader in dialysis nursing, will retire July 14, 2018, after 44 years with Northwest Kidney Centers. Most recently vice president of clinical operations, she’ll remain as a consultant on selected projects and will continue her leadership on the Renal Committee of the National Quality Forum.

When Anderson joined Northwest Kidney Centers in 1974, dialysis nursing meant caring for patients from across the region, developing clinical best practices, manually building dialyzers for each treatment and adjusting the machines. She worked alongside physician pioneers such as Drs. Belding Scribner, James Haviland and Christopher Blagg.

Anderson recently shared thoughts on the important contributions to the field made by nurses:

Federal quality oversight – Medicare conducts regular quality surveys at dialysis clinics across the country. Medicare’s Survey Guidelines introduced in 1974 were based on procedures developed by the nurses at Northwest Kidney Centers. Many of these standards remain in place. Today Northwest Kidney Centers’ quality rankings are among the nation’s highest: 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Patient care and clinical trials – When the breakthrough anemia drug Epogen was in clinical trials to treat dialysis patients, Northwest Kidney Centers nurses administered the drug and charted patients’ reactions. It became a standard treatment.

Advocacy for patients – The cost of dialysis was prohibitive for many patients in the early years before Medicare, and medical professionals strongly advocated for government assistance to make the treatment more accessible. When doctors lobbied legislators, nurses always accompanied them to explain the specifics of providing treatment.

Anderson said she is most proud of two particular contributions: creating the care manager approach to patient care and establishing relationships with area nursing schools. She was also instrumental in pioneering the availability of dialysis on weekends. Northwest Kidney Centers is the only outpatient dialysis provider in the country open on Sundays. The care manager approach is a collaborative practice model that enhances patient care by focusing on outcomes, carefully planning and then measuring results. A team produces comprehensive patient assessments and specific care plans and then evaluates. This approach has been adopted broadly among dialysis providers.

Anderson began initiating partnerships with local nursing schools 15 years ago because dialysis was unrepresented in nursing education. Today Northwest Kidney Centers works closely with 10 schools. By giving nursing students a look at care outside of the hospital, the program promotes dialysis nursing as a specialty and allows nurses outside the field to treat a unique set of patients. These relationships help Northwest Kidney Centers recruit staff in a competitive market as kidney disease continues to grow; a shortfall of 7,000 nurses is expected in Washington state by 2025, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.