The Cleveland Rutherford Kidney Association will hold an Open House at the new addition to the current Susan Renee Ledford Patient Service Center located at 1017 North Washington Street Shelby, NC on May 19th, 2019 from 3:00pm to 5:00 pm. The public is invited along with patients, family, and friends. Light refreshments will be served.
The Cleveland - Rutherford Kidney Association was formed in 1980 as a 501-c3 charitable corporation, primarily to provide free transportation to dialysis centers. At that time, victims of chronic kidney failure in Cleveland and Rutherford counties had to travel to Charlotte, Gastonia or Spartanburg, SC for dialysis therapy. These trips usually involved 1 ½ to 2 hours travel to the centers, 3 to 5 hours on the dialysis machines, then 1 ½ to 2 hours back home. Most patients were too sick to drive themselves so a family member or friend had to drive for them. This was a three times per week, 52 weeks per year routine - No vacations, no days off. When asked what happened if a patient could not find transportation, a doctor here in Cleveland County replied, "Make them as comfortable as we can until they die."
According to Michelle Hoyle, Executive Director of the Association, at the time the association was founded, there were 22 known patients in the area. Currently we have contact with slightly over 400 in the two counties being served by five dialysis centers; two in Shelby, two in Kings Mountain, one in Boiling Springs, and one in Forest City. Hopefully, this increase in patients can be attributed partially to a decrease in death rates from the disease due to the current access to treatment.
Even with the availability of the five new dialysis centers in this area, there are patients who still have transportation problems. The Kidney Association is still transporting patients absolutely free of charge.
Over the years the services of the Kidney Association have expended and grown from transportation to many other programs. First and foremost is the organ donation program. The number of kidney transplants in Cleveland and Rutherford counties has drastically increased in the last forty years. From one or two known transplants in 1980, we now have dozens. The Association strives to make information about transplantations, its availability and procedures for applying available to all patients, families, and interested persons. This is done through pamphlets, consultation sessions, and speaker's program by association volunteers.
Many other programs have been added. The Association operates a clothes closet for patients and their families. We also have a food pantry that provides food for needy patients. These are supported by donation of clothes and food from individuals, clubs, churches, and civic groups. "We never charge a patient for anything we give them", Hoyle explained. "It is amazing how generous people are when they understand the need" she added.
That is primarily why we needed our new addition," Hoyle said. People just keep bringing stuff over; food, clothing, household items, even furniture. We just did not have sufficient room to store all that people donated. It was impossible to sort and store everything in our offices. It was a shame to turn down good folk's donation when there was always a need.", Hoyle continued. We do not have that problem now. We can accept many times more than before1"
Probably one of our most vital and most asked for services is medical help. The drugs and medicines required by victims of Kidney failure are astronomical. We sometimes find patients who have to choose between medicines and food for their families. This is pitiful!" Hoyle exclaimed. The people most affected by this are those not eligible for Medicaid because their pension or Social Security, is too much to qualify them. Patients trying to get on the waiting list for a kidney transplant have to show they can afford the cost of anti-rejection medicine for approximately three months before they can apply. These medicines are extremely expensive! So are all the trips to Duke, Baptist Hospital, Charlotte and other transplant centers necessary for application. The Association will help - if we have the funds! Hoyle explained. "Since transportation is the only option to dialysis or death, it is an unacceptable shame that a patient would miss out on this opportunity for a "normal life". Simply because they cannot afford it", Hoyle said.
"We would love to have you come to see our beautiful new addition and find out more about this organization and the work we are trying to do.", Hoyle said.
The new addition was constructed by Chris Cook and his Top-Quality Construction Company. Architectural services and other valuable advice were provided by Jim Kunkle of James Kunkle, Architect Inc. We owe these gentlemen an immense debt of gratitude for their help.
We are now "ready to roll" on our new and expanded mission. All that is left is to pay for it.
Hope to see all of you on May 19th.
Submitted by Michelle Hoyle