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Social Work



So My Kidneys are Failing . . . Now What? - A kidney education meeting for patients and families/friends.

Come and let us help you put the pieces together. By attending this meeting you will:

  • Learn about treatments for kidney failure
  • Hear from kidney staff that are trained in multiple areas
  • Meet people who are already on dialysis or transplant and are living satisfying lives
  • Take home resources for more information.

Click here for more information.



Nephrology Social Work Services

Outpatient Clinic - The Nephrology Outpatient Clinic has a social worker available through Ambulatory Care Social Work. Please ask the clinic to refer you to a Social Worker if you need assistance with:

  • Insurance
  • Substance abuse needs
  • Counseling referrals
  • Domestic violence/abuse
  • Bereavement
  • Advance Directives
  • Safety concerns
  • Housing
  • Finances
  • Long-term planning
  • Caregiver support
  • Community referrals

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Inpatient Dialysis - When patients start dialysis in the hospital, they have many needs. The inpatient dialysis social worker can help with:

  • Education about kidney disease, dialysis options and transplant
  • Initial adjustment to diagnosis and treatment
  • Explaining common reactions of other patients who started dialysis
  • Providing literature and resources about kidney disease and dialysis
  • Finding a dialysis unit near the patient's home
  • Options for End of Life care
  • Arranging meetings with patient, family and health care team to discuss treatment plan and options.

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Outpatient Dialysis - Every dialysis unit in the country has a dialysis social worker trained to help patients and families cope with the impact kidney disease has on their lives. When a patient starts outpatient dialysis, they meet their social worker who is available to discuss emotional and financial issues, lifestyle adjustments and more. They help the patient:

  • Talk about their feelings and coping skills
  • Learn about kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplant
  • Strengthen their support system
  • Adjust to treatment, diet and other lifestyle changes
  • Find community resources for transportation, home health services and more
  • Keep or get insurance
  • Learn about Medicare eligibility
  • Apply for possible financial assistance
  • Find resources to return to work or school
  • Identify barriers and ways to enjoy life
  • Set goals and look to the future
  • Talk about death and dying, and Advance Directives
  • Address issues surrounding body image, sexual relationships and intimacy
  • Understand their Rights, Responsibilities, Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedures within the dialysis center

Additionally, the social worker serves as an advocate to:

  • Help the patient keep their job
  • Communicate the patient's needs and wishes to the health care team
  • Arrange meetings with patient, family and health care team to discuss treatment plan and options
  • Arrange for dialysis treatments in a visiting center

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Guest Assistance Program
  • Hours: Monday thru Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Contact: (734) 764-6893 or (800) 888-9825 (toll free)
  • Location: University Hospital 2B203 (near the Cafeteria, Gift Shop and Cashier's Office)

The Department of Social Work created the Guest Assistance Program to assist patients with support services while receiving care at our institution. This office can provide the following:

The Guest Assistance Program can also connect patients and families with Interpreter Services for medical appointments.

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Nephrology Social Work Staff





Angelica Cerdena

Clinical Social Worker

Inpatient Dialysis Unit (University Hospital)
(734) 936-2055

mcerdena@umich.edu



Andrea DeKam

Andrea DeKam, LMSW
Clinical Social Worker

Outpatient Dialysis Clinic (Livonia)
(734) 432-7870

ageiman@umich.edu




Karen Crampton, LMSW

Clinical Social Worker

Outpatient Hemodialysis Clinic (Ann Arbor)
(734) 677-1490

karencra@umich.edu





Ann Snyder-Manson, LMSW

Clinical Social Worker

Outpatient Hemodialysis Clinic (Ann Arbor)
(734) 677-1490

annsnyd@umich.edu


Erica Perry

Erica Perry, MSW
Clinical Social Worker

Outpatient Peritoneal Dialysis Clinic and Home Hemodialysis Clinic (Ann Arbor)
(734) 677-1490

eperry@umich.edu

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  1. Will dialysis affect my ability to have a child?
  2. Can I swim on dialysis?
  3. How much should I help my family member with their diet and medications?



  1. Will my health insurance be accepted at UM dialysis?
    • We can direct you to the appropriate billing office to answer that question.

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  2. I’ve had a transplant. Who can I talk to in Social Work?
    • The Transplant Center will have a social worker who is more familiar with your transplant needs and resources.

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  3. What qualifications do dialysis social workers have?
    • We are required to have a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) and be licensed by the State of Michigan.

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  4. Does my insurance cover transportation?
    • It depends. Yes if you have Medicaid. Not likely if you have private health insurance. Please talk with your insurance company or your social worker.

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  5. Is there someone I can talk to who has been through this themselves?
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  7. What if I would like to become a Peer Mentor?
    • First, discuss this with your social worker who can then contact the National Kidney Foundation and sign you up for the 8-hour training course.

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  8. Can I travel on dialysis?
    • Yes. Please tell your social worker. We will need at least 30 days notice for Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis.

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  9. Can I go on a cruise?
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  11. How does dialysis impact my sexual relationship with my partner?
    • You may feel self-conscious about your appearance. You may experience physical symptoms of reduced desire. You may experience emotions that cause you to feel less sexual, such as depression. Talking with your social worker and nephrologist can help you find ways to a more fulfilling relationship with your partner.

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  12. Will dialysis affect my ability to have a child?
    • This is an important discussion to have with your nephrologist and social worker to explore the medical and psychosocial aspects of having a child while on dialysis.

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  13. Can I swim on dialysis?
    • Possibly. This will depend on several factors. Please discuss your particular situation with your renal team.

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  14. Can I exercise?
    • Yes. However, please discuss with your doctor what kind of exercise you intend to do. Some activity is recommended for all patients.

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  15. Will dialysis affect my work? School?
    • It could. Your social worker can help in protecting your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We can also help with education and advocacy around Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and vocational rehabilitation.

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  16. Will dialysis impact my family?
    • Yes. Having a supportive family contributes to your adjustment to dialysis. Social work welcomes the opportunity to work with the whole family on issues and concerns related to your health.

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  17. Should I hide my kidney failure from others?
    • You aren’t required to tell anyone about your disease. However, see question 13. If you need accommodations from your employer it may help to have the support of the ADA.
    • Among your support system it may be helpful to have a few close friends who know what you are going through.

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  18. Does ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease) mean that I will die in the next year?
    • Many patients fear that when they start dialysis they will only live a short time. Your life expectancy depends on many factors and you should talk with your doctor. The more you learn how to manage your kidney failure, the better you will feel.

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  19. What are Advance Directives and should I have one? What about a Durable Power of Attorney?
    • Advance Directives are a legal document that describes the kinds of procedures you would want (or don't want) in the event that you are unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself. We recommend you appoint someone to speak on your behalf should you be unable to. This person is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Please ask your social worker for these forms to complete.

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  20. Which treatment is better, Hemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis?
    • Neither is better. Several factors, including medical and lifestyle, will influence your decision-making on which treatment option is best for you. Please talk to your nephrologist, social worker, and/or a peer mentor to help you understand the pros and cons of each treatment option.

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  21. Is it okay to be on more than one transplant list?
    • Yes. You can be on one transplant list per UNOS region. Keep in mind you will need to be able to get to the transplant center within a short time span and you will need to stay in that location for a few weeks following your transplant for follow up care.

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  22. How much should I help my family member with their diet and medications?
    • You can assist as it is needed but it is important for the patient to take as much control as possible of their own healthcare as able.

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  23. Is it common to feel sad, hopeless, useless, like a burden or that life has no meaning?
    • Yes and No. When patients first start dialysis those feelings are very common. We strongly encourage you to talk to your social worker to help you cope with these feelings. They can also reappear at times later on. If these feelings persist over many months, you may have Clinical Depression and should seek help from your social worker. You may also want to talk to your doctor about anti-depressant medication.

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  24. Is there life after starting dialysis?
    • Yes. Many patients resume the meaningful activities they have always enjoyed (work, travel, school, raising children/grandchildren, volunteering, gardening, etc) or find new ways to enjoy life.

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  25. I just started dialysis. Will I always feel so tired?
    • You play a large role in how well you feel. The closer you follow your diet, fluid restrictions and medication regimen, and if you attend all dialysis treatments the better you will feel. If you are doing these things and still feel tired, talk with your nephrologist.

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