A doctor and nurse team, Dr. Joseph Chazen and Mrs. Lucille Pono, were honored as this year’s Caregivers of the Year by the American Kidney Fund at its annual gala, The Hope Affair, on Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C. for their dedication to dialysis care.
Dr. Chazen, of Nephrology Associates in East Providence, was the first nephrologist to practice in Rhode Island and is considered a pioneer in the dialysis community, according to a release from the kidneyfund.org. He opened his first dialysis clinic in Providence in 1973, several months before historic legislation creating Medicare’s End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program went into effect.
Dr. Chazen has mentored and trained countless nephrologists throughout his career, and still operates his clinic and 10 others in the area. Since 2000, his practice has been affiliated with American Renal Associates, a national provider of dialysis services. Among their 10 local clinics are the Dialysis Center of Warwick on Bald Hill Road and the Dialysis Center of Johnston on Atwood Avenue.
Pono, a Warwick resident, began working with Dr. Chazen in 1970 and was the Director of Nurses at one of the first dialysis clinics in Rhode Island. Pono provided the training of hundreds of nursing staffers over the years that were new to dialysis and had little or no dialysis experience. She has also standardized the clinical operations of all the Nephrology Associates Inc. clinics.
“We are delighted to recognize Dr. Chazan and Ms. Pono for their extraordinary contributions to the health and well-being of people living with kidney disease in the greater Providence area,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund, the nation’s leading charity providing financial assistance to dialysis patients. “They were true pioneers when they opened their first dialysis clinic, and their continued innovation over the past four decades has improved the lives of thousands of patients under their care.”