It’s easier to take care of a health problem when we can physically see it changing our bodies. However, many maladies begin on the inside, and if left untreated can move an okay situation into the realm of dire. This is why we have doctors, individuals trained in different sections of the medical world who help us maintain our health.
At Northwest Indiana Nephrology, P.C. the physicians on staff are all about the prevention, treatment, and maintenance of proper kidney function. Nephrology is the study of kidney function, kidney diseases and their treatments, and dialysis (kidney replacement therapy). A nephrologist is extensively and specifically trained to handle medical situations involving the kidneys.
“We deal with kidney disease, dialysis, and everything related to that which would be hypertension, kidney stones, gout, glomerulonephritis, and any chronic kidney conditions," Dr. AJ Pampalone, DO said.
For the last four years, NWI Nephrology has been a leading provider in quality kidney care. With 11 locations all over Lake and Porter County and more opening soon, the organization is able to help patients get the treatment they need quickly and conveniently.
There are other nephrology centers and doctors in the Region, but NWI Nephrology is a cut above due to their wide range of expertise among the physicians and staff and their consistency upon providing a top-notch client experience every time.
“We have a vast amount of experience that we draw from to help our patients and we provide the most comprehensive care for them,” Dr. Pampalone said. “Our goal is to make our patients as comfortable as possible. Even though we work in a medical environment we want them to feel like they are at home.”
Dialysis is one of the services that NWI Nephrology offers. Simply put, during dialysis a patient’s blood is taken out of the body, cleaned in a machine, and then put back into the body. It is a slow process that takes a few hours depending on a person’s size. Normally, the kidneys are the filters, removing toxins and allowing the liquid that is taken into the body to be released via sweat or urination.
Once started, it is a procedure that a patient will more than likely be on for the rest of his or her life unless a kidney transplant is performed. It isn’t a painful procedure, but it can make a person feel that they are not in control.
“Being told what to eat, what to drink, and having to come in for hours at a time multiple days a week can make a person feel trapped,” Dr. Pampalone said. “We understand, but we pose it to patients like this: this is your lifeline. We want to make it as comfortable for you as we can, but you need to do this in order to live.”
In the chronic dialysis unit there is a team that consists of a dietician, social worker, and a head nurse. They help cover the bases and provide peace of mind for the patients.
“Our social worker helps patients with social and financial issues, working with Medicare and Medicaid and insurance, as well as conducting quality of life surveys to determine whether a patient need further assistance with coping emotionally with their current situation. We have specific renal dieticians who are specifically trained to deal with kidney patients on dialysis. They are very involved with the patients and their families and do monthly tests to make sure they are on the right track. Our head nurse does the day-to-day medical procedures for the patients. They are also specifically trained to help patients with chronic kidney disease.”
A person on dialysis can have a perfectly normal life. Dr. Pampalone said that he has patients who travel and who are physically active.
“There are dialysis units all over the world so if you want to go somewhere we can set you up with a place that can help you just about anywhere. We encourage people to get up and go,” Dr. Pampalone said. “Patients can get their treatments at home, too, and take that apparatus with them when they travel.”
Other services are offered to individuals at NWI Nephrology in their chronic kidney disease clinic. Individuals with kidney dysfunction who aren’t on dialysis come here for treatment, and this is where the majority of NWI Nephrology’s physicians see patients. The organization also has a hospital practice where people with acute kidney failure in local hospital ICUs are treated.
“We have patients in their 20s all the way up to in their 90s,” Dr. Pampalone said. “I have patients who are so active that you wouldn’t know that they have any health problems at all. We work with steel mill workers, lawyers, doctors, students, moms, dads… We really put all of our focus on giving our patients the best quality of life possible.”
For more resources on kidney function see the links below:
National Kidney Foundation - www.kidney.org
American Kidney Fund - www.kidneyfund.org
National Kidney Disease Education Program - www.nkdep.nih.gov
American Association of Kidney Patients - www.aakp.org
Home Dialysis Central - www.homedialysis.org
American Society of Nephrology - www.asn-online.org