August 29—Allan Borja starts his days earlier.
As a nurse in charge at Fresenius Kidney Care, he usually opens the clinic around 4:15 a.m. and then sees the first batch of patients coming in for dialysis treatment.
He works six days a week and on some days he works over 12 hours, which has become his new norm since he has taken on more shifts that otherwise would not be covered.
Fresenius, like health care facilities across the country, has struggled with staffing issues.
The company has come to rely on Borja, a Beaverton resident who splits his time between clinics in Astoria and Forest Grove.
After working for the treatment provider for more than a decade, Borja said the job has become more than a job.
Although he often comes home tired, he says he has continued to stay in the specialty because of the relationships he has built with patients. He also enjoys the camaraderie that comes with working with dialysis technicians, social workers, dietitians and other staff.
Borja described his relationships with patients as partnerships to help them live their lives to the fullest while coping with kidney failure.
“You open in the morning, you greet this patient with a happy greeting and some of them will even give you a hug, and then you realize, ‘You know what, it’s not a job, it’s actually a mission,'” he said. “That’s actually life and I don’t mind doing it.”
For Borja, patients are friends and family, which is why he takes shifts, especially when a clinic would otherwise have to close.
“For a dialysis patient, missing treatment is a big deal,” he said. “It can mean life or death for them.”
Borja said he is satisfied to see his patients progress, but building relationships is also a double-edged sword.
“Whenever I have a patient who dies, I always go home and at night I always ask myself: ‘Is there anything I could have done to prolong his or her life'”, did he declare.
Borja said wins and heartbreak can feel like a rollercoaster and he sometimes wondered if the work was sustainable.
“If you’re in this job just for the money, you’re going to burn out,” he said. “There must be another reason you’re sticking with it.”