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Dr. Michael Kokinov

The Republic of Mordovia, a small Russian state, is located at the heart of the vast country’s European half. In the capital city of Saransk is the NephroCare Saransk Dialysis Centre that first opened its doors in November 2009. This is where Dr. Michael Kokinov and his colleagues currently provide top quality care for 140 patients with chronic kidney disease.

A natural career path

Some might say becoming a doctor was in his genes. Dr. Kokinov always knew he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandparents, who he respected greatly, by studying medicine. They inspired him to care for and help people in critical situations. "After finishing school I had no doubt about my career choice", says Kokinov. He first studied to become an intensive care physician and anaesthesiologist because it allowed him to fulfil his wish to specialise in something requiring both excellent knowledge and practical skills. Later, however, Kokinov went back to school at the University in St. Petersburg to pursue his true passion: nephrology.

There from the start

When it first opened its doors in 2009, the team at Saransk Dialysis Centre, located approximately 630 kilometres east of Moscow, treated just 50 patients with chronic kidney disease. Since then the centre has grown nearly threefold and today treats 140 patients. Both the patients and the centre benefit from a strong team that loves their work. Kokinov is ‘seriously proud of’ how the employees at the centre have grown together to form a cohesive team.

Four doctors, 15 nurses, 11 ward maids, a clinical nurse manager, a secretary, an engineer and a technician keep the NephroCare Saransk Dialysis Centre up and running on a day-to-day basis.

Early to rise

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. And Dr. Kokinov has long lived by this mantra. On a typical day the 42-year old wakes up before the sun at 5 a.m. to swim laps at the local swimming pool before going to work. ‘This loads me up with energy and helps me stay awake the whole day,’ Kokinov says. After arriving at the centre, he discusses current issues with other doctors and the technical staff. This helps ensure patients always receive the best-possible level of care.

Then Kokinov starts his favourite part of the day: making rounds to see his patients. The nephrologist is not shy to admit that their wellbeing and care are his top priority. Only after checking his patients Dr. Kokinov finds time for his other duties, which range from controlling prescriptions and checking correspondence to meeting heads of regional public health services.

Quality care is key

The quality standards adopted in our company are very high,’ says Kokinov. ‘Only by following these standards can we provide our patients with comprehensive treatment.’ He and his team know that successful treatment requires detailed coordination between doctors and nurses. So the staff participates in frequent training sessions, theory and practical lessons, and corporate online extension courses.

According to Kokinov, speaking with patients in person, learning about their interests and worries, creating a favourable emotional climate, and providing psychological support also play essential roles in providing quality care for the numerous patients at their centre. Their approach appears to be a success!

Empowering his patients

Caring properly for the 140 patients at Saransk Dialysis Centre is only one part of successful treatment, emphasises Kokinov. Patient education about how to live – and enjoy life – with chronic kidney disease is the other essential part. ‘Patients coming for treatment have different levels of medical knowledge. Often they know nothing at all,’ he said. Many are confused when they enter the dialysis centre for the first time and it’s his role to act as a missionary.

Kokinov believes in a hands-on approach to learning. He shows patients the right way to do things, provides the necessary knowledge on the choice of treatment, explains how to follow therapy, gives recommendations on diet and hygiene, and shares travel opportunities and ways to stay active. ‘With this knowledge the patients are no longer helpless. They become partners with the doctors and nurses in caring for their own health, a task requiring continuity,’ Kokinov says.

Part of the centre’s programme to educate and empower patients includes inviting them to regular seminars covering various dialysis related topics. Dialysis patients in Mordovia are especially lucky. They have founded a regional support group to promote their interests and recently organised a meeting with the Ministry of Health at the centre. ‘Our patients had an opportunity to inform the minister and his assistants in person about their problems and get answers to their questions,’ said Kokinov. The meeting was a huge success: all decisions including those concerning preferential provision medicines were immediately taken on-site. ‘I think this experience could be used by other regions’.

Finding time to relax

Recently, friends of Dr. Kokinov opened a rock café on the outskirts of Saransk. He has become a regular on Friday nights when they play blues and rock music. It’s a moment during his busy week when he can let go. A long-time FC Mordovia fan, he and his son, Yura, enjoy going to the stadium to support their team whenever there are home matches.

‘Everyone should come to Saransk for the FIFA World Cup 2018! Our city is very beautiful.’ When he finds time, the nephrologist also enjoys fishing. ‘But I only fish in the summer with a fishing rod’. For him, though, fishing is about the process, not the results. ‘It doesn’t matter whether I bring a fish home or not. The energy the day has given me is what counts,’ he said. Words of a wise man with a big caring heart.