“We need to stand up for our family members who depend on dialysis and we need dialysis companies to deliver the kind of care their patients rely on to stay alive.”

For almost five years, I spent nearly 12 hours a week taking my father to dialysis appointments, sitting near him as he underwent the grueling dialysis sessions that sometimes lasted up to four hours.

During that time I grew familiar with how the clinic worked and the kind of stress his caregivers were under to take care of all their patients. At times I would alert staff that other patients were having problems – especially those who were there without friends or family. I became another set of eyes on the patient floor.

I didn’t mind doing it, but it shouldn’t have been necessary.

Lunchtime was usually the worst stretch of the day. For that 30 to 45-minute period, I would only see one technician monitoring as many as 15 patients. That happened nearly every day. It wasn’t safe and it worried me.

In July 2010, during one of my father’s regular dialysis sessions his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. He was taken out of the clinic on a stretcher and died three days later at home.

My father’s death was devastating. If there were no staffing issues, I don’t think he would have died so soon or this could have been prevented. What I saw at the clinics makes me fear for other patients, for people who can’t be as vigilant as I tried to be because of their health or circumstances.

We need to stand up for our family members who depend on dialysis and we need dialysis companies to deliver the kind of care their patients rely on to stay alive.

Watch Roberta Mikles testify to the California State Senate Health Committee.

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