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ANN ARBOR, MICH. – Over one million adults in Michigan live with kidney disease. Sadly, many of these individuals are unaware of it because they have no symptoms. Knowing this, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) collaborated with other partners in the state to develop a Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Prevention Strategy.

Spanning 2021 through 2026, the plan includes timely information on COVID-19. According to a recent issue of the professional journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, CKD is the condition that is most strongly associated with the risk of severe COVID-19. People with CKD and its leading cause, diabetes, are at much greater risk of hospitalization and death if they contract the virus. Finally, COVID-19 can also cause acute kidney injury, which can then result in long term kidney disease.

The five-year plan is a strong, proactive approach to today’s growing public health crisis. The plan outlines a comprehensive and collaborative strategy to prevent kidney disease and its progression in communities at greatest risk, especially those who struggle with access to health care and other basics.

  • The plan consists of four goals, each supported by specific activities that address social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, social support, and access to health care. Briefly, the goals are:
  • transform kidney care using kidney disease data, shared metrics and evidence-based strategies
  • increase awareness of preventable kidney disease
  • increase the reach of evidence-based programs and policy/system/environmental changes
  • maximize financial sustainability for the above efforts

“This plan is designed to transform kidney care by focusing on earlier identification and treatment, in addition to addressing social determinants of health. These are crucial factors to preventing kidney disease in Michigan,” states Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan and Chief Deputy Director for Health in the MDHHS.

Another key partner in forming the plan was the Henry Ford Health System (Henry Ford). A leader in kidney disease care, the Detroit-based Henry Ford was the first hospital in the state to implement the Kidney Profile, as recommended by the National Kidney Foundation, to make it easier to screen people at high risk for kidney disease.

David Shepherd, President/CEO, Henry Ford Community Care Services and Chair of the NKFM Board of Directors, said, “We recognize how serious kidney disease is and how many lives are affected by it. The earlier you identify people with it, the earlier you can work with them to reduce further damage.”

Additional partners in the plan’s development include nonprofit community services, universities, professional associations, foundations, health plans, community health clinics, physicians and people living with kidney disease.

One in seven Americans suffer from kidney disease with a disproportionate number being people of color. Kidney disease is costly from both a quality of life and a healthcare perspective. The prevention efforts in this plan will not only prevent or delay kidney disease, but also improve quality of life and save overall costs. Medicare currently spends almost 23% of its budget on those with CKD. Medicare costs for kidney disease total $120 billion annually. In Michigan, Medicaid costs for CKD have been as much as $1.5 billion.

Individuals with risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, being overweight and sedentary lifestyles need to seek advice from their physicians, take their medications as directed, and make important lifestyle changes.

The NKFM has a long history of partnering with the MDHHS to tackle chronic diseases such as prediabetes, diabetes and hypertension to improve the lives of Michigan’s residents. Since 2005, Michigan has been one of the few states with a chronic kidney disease prevention strategy. The 2021-2026 plan outlines specific activities for the state, the NKFM and its partners in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and management of kidney disease.

“We have incredible partnerships with healthcare, government, education and community members. Together we will overcome the challenges we will face as we do this transformative work to prevent kidney disease and empower patients,” states Linda Smith-Wheelock, NKFM President/CEO.

March is National Kidney Month. To view the full CKD plan visit here.

About the MDHHS

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is a governmental organization that provides and coordinates many services in the state of Michigan, including public health programs designed to protect Michiganders from illness and injury, services to protect children and adults from neglect and abuse, food assistance, Medicaid assistance and services to those with support needs related to mental illness, developmental disability, substance use disorders and children with serious emotional disturbance. michigan.gov/mdhhs

Cover of CKD Plan 2021-2026