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Jesse Brown VAMC is leading the way for the VA by no longer including race as a measurement of kidney health


December 20, 2021

Chicago , IL — In November, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center became one of the first VA Medical Centers to no longer use an outdated calculator that included race to measure kidney health. This is the first of many future changes to remove race-based factors from healthcare & provide equitable care for all Veterans.

Doctors use a blood test called eGFR to determine how well your kidneys are working and if you have kidney disease. Until now, a patient’s race was factored into the eGFR calculation. Using race in this calculation is unnecessary and incorrect because race is a social construct and not a biological one. Furthermore, using race in the eGFR blood test can delay diagnosis of kidney disease for Black patients, leading to lower quality care and may impact eligibility to receive life-saving treatments including a kidney transplant.   

“Here at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, our goal is to provide equitable healthcare to every single Veteran that steps through our doors, regardless of race.” said Dr. Natasha Nichols, co-chair of the Jesse Brown for Black Lives (JB4BL) Clinical Committee. “We believe this change in the eGFR is a positive step that highlights our commitment to serving our Veterans through high-quality care devoid of racism.”

This change is in response to months of advocacy work done by the JB4BL Clinical Committee, an interdisciplinary group of Jesse Brown clinicians and trainees. The committee formed in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed, when many in healthcare began to examine the harms caused by racism in medicine and strive for equitable healthcare for all.

To learn more about what this means for our patients, view the Patient Factsheet below. 

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