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Imagine your kidneys as a pair of tireless housekeepers that clean your blood, sweeping away waste and excess fluid to keep you feeling your best. Sometimes these hardworking organs wear out and need help. That's where kidney dialysis comes in. 

What is dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a lifesaver, stepping in to do the job your kidneys can no longer handle. It's like a high-tech cleaning crew that filters your blood, removing harmful toxins and restoring balance to your body.  

Gundersen understands that your life doesn't stop when your kidneys do. We offer three dialysis options so you can choose the treatment that fits your lifestyle.  

Whether you prefer the support of our expert care teams at one of our convenient in-center hemodialysis locations or the comfort and independence of home dialysis, we're here to help you reclaim your health and well-being.

What is home dialysis?

Home dialysis is just like the kidney dialysis you get in a clinic, except it’s done in the comfort of your home. You'll learn how and we’ll be here to answer your questions along the way.

We’ll talk more about the home dialysis machines, but let’s first explore your home dialysis options.

What are my home dialysis options? 

  1. Peritoneal dialysis, or PD: This option uses the lining of your abdomen (your belly) as a natural filter. A surgeon places a soft tube called a catheter in your belly, allowing a special fluid to flow in and out of your abdomen, usually while you’re asleep. This process removes waste and extra fluid.
  2. Home hemodialysis, or HHD: This type of home dialysis uses a machine to filter your blood. You'll need minor surgery to create a connection point (either a fistula or a graft) in your arm and the machine connects to it to clean your blood, usually four or five days a week. 

How does home dialysis work?

You’ll use a compact dialysis machine for kidney dialysis at home. The machine guides you through each step with clear on-screen instructions. It's simpler than you think!

You can do PD alone, but you’ll need a support person for HHD. 

Benefits of home dialysis

  • Your life, your schedule. Home dialysis isn't just a treatment; it's a lifestyle upgrade that allows you to travel without worry, have supplies delivered to your door and create a treatment schedule that fits your life.
  • A gentler approach to dialysis. Your body deserves the best care and home dialysis delivers. With daily treatments, your electrolyte and fluid levels stay balanced, easing the burden on your circulatory system and keeping your blood pressure in check.  
  • Home dialysis machine. A user-friendly machine manages the entire process, making it easier to fit into your daily routine. While you'll need to dedicate space for supplies, convenient monthly deliveries make it easy. Stay connected with your healthcare team through remote monitoring and regular check-ins, ensuring you're always in good hands.
  • A supportive community at your fingertips. Transitioning to home-based treatment doesn't mean going it alone. Gundersen home dialysis comes with a support network designed to empower you every step of the way. A team of dedicated nurses is available to answer questions, address concerns and provide guidance during and after business hours. You're never alone on your dialysis journey. 

Which Gundersen home dialysis option is right for me?

The best kidney dialysis option for you depends on your lifestyle, health needs and preferences. Talk to your provider about whether PD or HHD aligns with your unique situation.  

For patients like Randy, peritoneal dialysis means the freedom to live life on his terms. It provides the convenience of home treatment and the freedom to move during a dialysis process that’s gentler on his body.

“I’m able to do everything that I was doing before I went into dialysis,” Randy said. “I have the freedom to schedule my treatments around what my activities are and what my kids' activities are. I can do treatment and still have strength to go out and mow the lawn or go to a sporting event or the grocery store.”  

Home dialysis patient with dialysis machine.
Randy, a home dialysis patient, with his dialysis machine.

Randy's confidence in his treatment stems from the remote monitoring by his healthcare team. This remote support system provides peace of mind, knowing he can reach out with issues.

"The nurses are excellent about reading through my numbers and they can tell how much fluid and things have come in and out,” he said. “I feel so supported by the fact that they are able to follow my treatments at home through modern technology.” 

How can I prepare for home dialysis? 

Preparing for home dialysis is a journey, but don't worry – your healthcare team will be with you every step of the way. Here's what you can expect:

  • A home visit. We’ll visit your home to check if there's enough space for your equipment and how close your bathroom is to your chosen treatment area. If you have pets, let our team know so they can help you plan how to keep them safely away during treatment.
  • Surgery and training. After the home visit, you'll schedule surgery for your PD catheter placement, if that’s the option you choose. It's a same-day procedure. A nurse will tell you all about catheter care and what to expect. You'll then have weekly catheter rinses leading up to your week-long training. The first four days are at our hospital in La Crosse before a home visit to set up your machine.
  • Storage. You'll need space for your monthly dialysis supplies, about the size of a small closet. Don't worry if you don't have a dedicated space – a clean, dry area anywhere in your home will work. Your team can help you find the best location.
  • Cleanliness is key. To stay healthy, keep your home clean, wash your hands well before handling your catheter and find a clean spot for your machine and supplies.
  • Waste disposal. It's simple. You can drain it into the toilet, shower or outside. If your bathroom is far from your treatment area, you'll get special drain bags. These hold a lot but can get heavy, so be mindful when they're full. 

How difficult is home dialysis?

Embarking on home dialysis is a big step, but with the right preparation and support, you'll be ready to take charge of your treatment and enjoy the comfort and convenience of kidney dialysis in your home.

Is home dialysis covered by Medicare?

If you're considering home dialysis, you might wonder about the financial piece. The good news is that Medicare generally covers most dialysis treatments and supplies, including those for home dialysis.

It's important to understand that Medicare has different parts (Part A, Part B and sometimes Part D) that cover specific aspects of dialysis care. Talk with your Medicare representative or healthcare provider for more personalized coverage information. 

What is in-center hemodialysis?

In-center hemodialysis at one of our renal dialysis centers uses a machine to remove waste products and extra fluid from your blood when your own kidneys can't handle the job. Think of it as a cleaning process that also helps balance important substances in your body, like potassium and sodium.

We’ll base your treatment plan on your lab results and how well you tolerate kidney dialysis. This means you'll get the right amount of dialysis for your unique needs.

You'll visit one of our renal dialysis centers three times a week, either on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Each session usually lasts the same amount of time, but there might be adjustments if needed. 

Benefits of in-center hemodialysis

In-center hemodialysis offers an alternative if home dialysis isn’t an option for you. Our hospital in La Crosse serves inpatients, while our regional renal dialysis centers welcome outpatient visits. During treatment at our hospital or renal dialysis centers, you can expect:

  • Peace of mind. Your dedicated healthcare team oversees every aspect of your treatment at a Gundersen renal dialysis center.
  • Companionship. You'll meet other patients on their own kidney dialysis journey, and sometimes it's nice to have someone to talk to. If you prefer peace and quiet during treatment, that's OK too.
  • Advanced care. We invest in technology and equipment that deliver the level of care you need and deserve.
In center hemodialysis patient at gundersen renal dialysis center.
Gundersen's Renal Dialysis Center in Tomah, Wis., is one of our dialysis centers.

Which Gundersen kidney dialysis option is right for me?

The best kidney dialysis option depends on your lifestyle, health needs and preferences. Talk to your nephrologist to determine whether PD, HHD or in-center kidney dialysis is right for you.

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1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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