National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
American Kidney Fund Partnership
March is National Kidney Month—Here’s how VHA’s partnership with American Kidney Fund helps Veterans
National Kidney Month is when groups throughout the United States raise awareness about kidney disease. One such group is American Kidney Fund (AKF), a nonprofit that partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in November 2020. VA and AKF work together to help Veterans diagnosed with kidney disease live healthier lives.
AKF’s resources and expertise will add to the kidney disease-related resources VA already provides. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Kidney Program provides kidney-related services to dialysis centers throughout VA medical centers. VA also makes many kidney disease benefits available to Veterans and their families.
LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of AKF, explained that the prevalence of kidney disease, one in seven people in the general population, is higher among Veterans, one in six. There are close to 40,000 Veterans living with kidney failure.
“This partnership gives us an opportunity to provide assistance and support for Veterans because our first objective is to do everything we can to reach out to people who are affected by kidney disease, to help them achieve the best possible outcomes,” Ms. Burton said.
AKF encourages Veterans to become part of AKF’s Advocacy Network of Ambassadors. Ambassadors help raise awareness of kidney disease by sharing their stories, meeting with legislators in Washington, and educating their local communities about the disease. There are 15,000 people on the advocacy network now.
“The best advocates for the disease are the people who are affected by it,” Ms. Burton continued. “AKF provides a platform for people to talk about their own situation and trains people how to tell their stories in an impactful way. We would love to have more Veterans join.”
A big part of this partnership is information sharing, she continued. If Veterans visit the AKF website, they will be directed to services available on the VA website, and they’ll also have access to AKF’s suite of educational resources, such as: a benefits for Veterans handout; the Kidney Kitchen website with specific recipe and nutrition information; and information on becoming a Kidney Health Coach in their Veteran communities.
“If you identify chronic kidney disease early on, or before you even have it, there are things you can do to control it or slow it down. It is not inevitable that your kidneys will fail,” Ms. Burton said. Learn more about kidney disease risks on both AKF’s and VA’s web pages.
This partnership is managed by the VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP, formerly OCE and CCI). Georgeanna Bady, health systems specialist for HAP, spoke to the importance of the AKF partnership.
“HAP and VHA as a whole always have the goal to pursue partnerships that address Veterans’ health care concerns and needs, and this partnership with AKF is no different,” Ms. Bady said. “We know that by working together with AKF, we can help more Veterans understand their risk of kidney disease and bring them resources to keep them healthy.”
Learn more about HAP’s work here: va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Learn how to join AKF’s Advocacy Network here: KidneyFund.org/ambassadors.
Posted March 10, 2021