By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Southborough – When Southborough resident Jane Maxim embarked on her career as a nephrology nurse in 1974, she worked at a center in Boston where people with kidney failure had to travel from all over New England three times a week to receive dialysis treatment. She was pleased when medical advancements made it possible for some patients to receive in-home treatment via peritoneal dialysis. She knew the option would ease many of the hardships such travel can cause.
For the next several decades, Maxim focused on supporting patients and families while undergoing treatment with the new option of dialysis treatment at home. When the nonprofit corporation, Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI), opened a home dialysis program in Somerville 10 years ago, she was chosen to be the unit's nurse manager.
DCI is the largest nonprofit dialysis provider in the country, treating more than 14,000 patients at 216 locations in 26 states. Maxim has remained the devoted manager at her site ever since. According to the organization, her unit has grown to become one of the busiest home dialysis programs in Greater Boston.
Maxim approaches the large numbers with a large heart. While she hopes for an available transplant for each of the patients, she and her teammates strive to help every one of them have the best quality of life possible while on dialysis.
In October, the unit Maxim manages won a national award, DCI's 2013 Darwin Peterson Award for its home dialysis program. The annual award is bestowed upon the home dialysis program with “the highest overall quality throughout the DCI network of dialysis facilities.”
Maxim's team consists of a social worker, a nutritionist, a clerk, and five nurses, as well as nephrologists who serve their current patient caseload of 63. The diversity of specialists who treat each patient and offer support to families is a key element of the unit's service provision.
“It is an honor to be the recipient of the Darwin Peterson Award,” she said. “It reflects the work of a dedicated team of people which starts with the patients.”
DCI offers a wide range of information for patients and families on the company's website, www.dciinc.org. From the site, people can access tips on coping with the disease, nutritional and financial guidance, as well as detailed medical information.
After nearly 40 years in the field, Maxim remains enthusiastic about her work. Throughout her long career, Maxim has tuned in to how the difficult illness of kidney failure affects both the patient and family. She has treated patients ranging from very young children to older adults.
“My job is fulfilling for many reasons,” she said. “It is rewarding to see the patients” progress through the training program, notice an improvement in the health, and return to work for many.”