VAN NUYS, Calif. — Audrey Thomas, a 39-year-old dialysis patient who also is a dialysis technician, smiles as she describes her clinic in this Southern California city as nothing short of a blessing: Clean, efficient and welcoming, it provides her with a decent salary and a flexible schedule so she can get her treatments, work and go to school at the same time.
A few miles away, dialysis patient Tangi Foster and dialysis worker Emanuel Gonzales have decidedly different views.
Foster, an animated 60-year-old, says her technicians are overworked and pressed to shorten turnaround times for patients. She recalls a time after her dialysis when a cockroach came home in her bag. Gonzales, 25, who saw his father endure kidney disease long before he got into the profession, says workers often pick up extra shifts to make up for the low pay, meaning they can work six days a week when clinics are short-staffed.
Even then, he said, there are sometimes not enough workers on a floor. He recalls a Halloween two years ago when a patient had a heart attack, and since all of the available staffers were working to revive him, it was a visitor who had to call 911.
The issues aren’t unique to one or two clinics, the patients and workers said. Problem clinics aren’t all run by a particular company, they said, and good clinics aren’t the province of certain companies either. But it’s the bad examples, especially when it comes to worker schedules, that have led to calls for reform.