The St. Maarten Medical Center celebrated International World Kidney day on Thursday March 8th 2018. The specialists, staff and patients of the SMMC Nephrology department created activities, such as radio interviews, press releases and social media activities leading up to the in-house celebration whereby public information sessions were held on the SMMC patio.
Attendees were presented with educational presentation by the Nephrologists and dialysis personnel. The specialists presented the Chronic Kidney Prevention & Progression - Dr. Van Essen, Preeclamsia and its relations to kidneys- Dr. Siddiqi and Kidney’s & Women’s health -Dr. Gil. The latter presentation additionally tied in the importance of female health and amplified International Women’s day also observed on March 8th. Attendees asked questions after each presentation and received thorough answers from the specialists.
In addition to specialists providing information, two kidney patients, Mary Ettenat and Kenneth Kong spoke to the attendees about their experiences with kidney disease, dialysis, the transplant process and life after diagnosis. Both patients sited the major change in their lives upon being diagnosed, the ups and downs of being a kidney patient and what the journey thus far has meant for their lives and their families. “You can live a full life despite being on dialysis” said Mr. Kong as he explained how his life was currently structured around his dialysis appointments. Mr. Kong is able to continue work and travels several times a despite the need to dialyze. He commended the SMMC Dialysis department and staff as well as the specialists for being able to do so. “It’s not easy, but I am happy that I am able to get the help here on St. Maarten rather than having to travel” Ms. Ettenat stated as she thanked the doctors and staff for the care she had received thus far. “It is not the end of the world, and you can live a full life” she stated while relating her journey to audience. When asked what message she would like to convey to the general public, Ms. Ettenat said that more awareness and involvement from the community to facilitate the current patients and the growing number of patients in need of dialysis, should be at the forefront. This sentiment was also echoed by Mr. Boon in his testimony.
The program continued with Nurse Lorenzo Karto who spoke about the post-Irma journey of the department and its patients. Attention was given to the process directly after the devastating hurricane passed over the island and the months following. Though it was a very tough time in the beginning Nurse Lorenzo indicated that things have certainly come a long way since those harrowing days in September 2017.
Upon conclusions of the program attendees to mingle and speak to the specialists and staff while enjoying refreshments. In addition, attendees were able to view the dialysis machine and ask questions regarding its operations. The specialists, organizers, staff were happy to have been able to organize this event. “Bringing awareness and information about kidney disease and providing the best care possible for our patients will always be our focus. We look forward to next year’s celebrations!” said the Nephrologist as they spoke and mingled with attendees.