Strive Kidney Heroes holding super hero posters in Saint Louis, February 2020.
Though some superheroes live within the pages of books or on Hollywood’s screens, we’re lucky enough to find them in the real world as well. Today, the heroism of healthcare workers cannot be understated – be it those serving in COVID treatment units, or those continuing to provide the everyday life-sustaining care that so many people rely on. Strive Health’s comprehensive care teams are made up by some of these everyday heroes: nurse practitioners, registered nurses, care coordinators, and more. m
Kidney Heroes are Leaders
Strive’s Kidney Hero Teams, led by nurse practitioners, are the heart and soul of the Strive model. Kidney Heroes partner with nephrologists, primary care physicians, and specialists to provide whole-person care to people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage renal disease (ESRD).
In addition to our nurse practitioners, each Kidney Hero Team is comprised of registered nurse case managers, clinical pharmacists, social workers, and dieticians. Like any good superhero team, each person brings a unique skillset and focus, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Together they educate, advise, and treat CKD and ESRD patients within clinics, hospitals, dialysis facilities, and even the patients’ very own homes.
Kidney Heroes are Supporters
Within Strive Health’s high-touch model, Kidney Heroes support every patient care plan. From direct patient care, to medication management, to supporting patients in their overall health and wellbeing, these clinicians work as an extension of the patient’s PCP and nephrologist.
“If a patient isn’t progressing in a positive direction, our Kidney Heroes will help correct their course with the right intervention at the right time,” says Sandra Ryan, Chief Kidney Hero Officer at Strive Health. “They’ll meet with them physically, adjust their medications under physician guidance or pre-defined protocols, and work with their primary care physician and nephrologist with the ultimate goal of delaying the progression of kidney disease and helping them stay out of the emergency room.”
It’s a big job—and one with the potential to change millions of lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15 percent of U.S. adults (or 37 million people) have CKD. Patients often have multiple co-morbidities as well – other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity — that the Kidney Hero Teams are trained to address. If the disease progresses, patients can develop ESRD and require ongoing dialysis or a transplant for survival.
“Kidney disease patients are generally complex from a treatment perspective,” Ryan says. “They need time and attention that their primary care physician or nephrologist might not be able to provide. Our Kidney Heroes are here to be their support system and to help them live the best life they can with the right medications, interventions, treatments, diet, and education.”
Meet Our Kidney Heroes
Leading Strive Health’s Kidney Hero Teams is Sandra Ryan, MSN, FCPP, FAANP, FAAN. Ryan has been a nurse since 1983, becoming a nurse practitioner 10 years later during her military service.
“In the military, everyone is really well taken care of,” Ryan recalls. “There is a system in place where all healthcare services are available. Members get the services they need, and it costs them nothing. When I retired from the military, I recognized right away how difficult the healthcare system was for the average person to navigate. It’s so expensive and cumbersome.”
This revelation drove Ryan to join with the other founders of Take Care Health to create the first retail healthcare clinics within Walgreens stores. “I was blessed to be part of that startup company,” she says. “Retail clinics met the needs of patients for easy access, quality and affordability. It made it convenient for patients to get care.”
Ryan moved on to starting a clinic business for Walmart before joining Strive Health in 2019.
“I have a mother and two brothers who are diabetic, and I’ve seen just how devastating chronic disease can be and how difficult it is to manage,” Ryan says. “Strive Health is taking a population that is underserved and helping them live their best quality of life while slowing down their disease progression.”
Ryan adds that she’s thrilled to be leading the Kidney Heroes because she believes that nurse practitioners are some of the best at connecting with their patients but adds it takes a village of healthcare professionals to take care of a patient
“The literature shows that nurses are the number one trusted profession for many years in a row according to Gallup surveys,” Ryan continues. “I think that’s because people who go into nursing truly care about people. Strive has a great model, and I’m very excited to be part of it.”
“The motivating factor to become a nurse practitioner was my passion to care for patients across their lifespan and on a deeper level. I value being able to help patients navigate the complexity of their care and be that sense of support for them throughout their life.” Says Abbey Lipsitz, NP and a Kidney Hero based in St. Louis.
Lipsitz added, “Strive Health has had the most profound and immediate impact on my life from day one. When I was interviewing for the nurse practitioner position, I instantly felt at home amongst Sandra and our lead nurse practitioner, Karen. I wasn’t even sure who Strive Health was at the time, but I knew the connection I formed with the team was special. After learning the mission and values of the company I realized how compatible they are with my own, like placing a strong emphasis on caring for others. Strive Health seeks to go above and beyond the call of duty to help empower patients and transform the way care is being delivered. I truly believe we are the change the health care system needs and will be heroes for our patients. I am honored to be a part of this specialized team and excited to see the profound impact we will have on our patients.”
Strive Health Is Transforming Kidney Care
Through early intervention and high-touch care, and by working side-by-side with patients to engage in consistent care routines, Strive Health’s Kidney Hero Teams are transforming kidney care. If you are interested in joining Strive Health, please see our career openings or reach out to find out if we’re coming to an area near you.