All of our counselors and staff at Camp Okawehna are volunteers. While some of these individuals are physicians, nurses, dialysis technicians, social workers, and child life specialists, others are simply at camp to give their time, energy, and creativity. In the past, we have had pharmacists, business persons, pilots, and even firefighters who volunteer to be a counselor at Camp “O.” All counselors are required to submit an application and a personal statement explaining why they want to be a counselor at Camp Okawehna.
H. Keith Johnson, MD, provides the medical direction for Camp Okawehna. Dr. Johnson is the founder of the nation’s largest not-for-profit dialysis care provider — Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI). He served as Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for over 25 years. He has since retired from his Vanderbilt position and devotes his time to the management of DCI.
Dr. Philip Berry, a practicing pediatric nephrologist, is responsible for the management of the hemodialysis facility during the week of camp. Dr. Berry is assisted by several other pediatric nephrologists from the Nashville medical community and from outside cities.
Because of the nature of this camp, there are numerous medical staff members on site 24 hours a day for the entire camp session. Staff from respective city groups accompanies their campers to camp to supplement those volunteers from the Nashville medical community. Every camper who requires hemodialysis is required to bring with them a knowledgeable “home unit” staff person who knows the intricacies of the child’s dialysis treatments and care.
During hemodialysis sessions (3 times during the week of camp), a physician is in the dialysis facility to monitor and oversee the dialysis treatments. In addition, each cabin at camp has assigned to it at least one medical professional who lives in that cabin during the week. If a medical emergency happens to arise, Columbia Horizon Medical Center is a short distance away for any emergency treatment. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is available for helicopter transports if needed.
Camp Okawehna has developed affiliations across the nation with many medical facilities and hospitals that refer children to our annual camp. The major affiliations are Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, Texas; Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama; Lebonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee; Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina; University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky; and St. Luke’s Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri. Camp Okawehna is also supported by its founder, DCI, and by DCI’s dialysis clinics across the country. Children with chronic renal failure who are on dialysis or have received transplants are welcome to come to camp; however, they must be accompanied by a professional medical staff person during their first year of camp. All hemodialysis campers must have an adult staff person accompany them to camp. Any medically related questions may be directed to the camp director who will put you in touch with the appropriate persons.