Dialysis Clinic, Inc. - Our philosophy
DCI Emergency and Natural Disaster Hotline 866-424-1990
Confidential Compliance Hotline: 877-326-1109
DCI Patient Experience Feedback Line: 833-602-2199 or Patient.Experience@dciinc.org

The care of the patient is our reason for existence.


To empower people with kidney disease to live their best lives.


Mission Driven
Patient Centered
Physician Led
Quality Focused

Caring Culture

DCI was founded as a physician-led not-for-profit more than 50 years ago to ensure that dialysis patients have access to and can receive the best care possible. What began as one dialysis clinic in Nashville, Tenn., has grown to more than 240 locations in 28 states. We now serve patients along the continuum of kidney disease from chronic kidney disease (REACH Kidney Care) to transplant (DCI Donor Services) or dialysis and through end of life.

To guide the organization into our next 50 years, DCI leaders recently reviewed our guiding principles and revised our organization’s values. Our patient-centric mission remains our driving force and stands as it was written in 1972.   

DCI’s Mission: The care of the patient is our reason for existence.

Our vision describes what we believe becomes possible when we live out our mission:

DCI’s Vision: To empower people with kidney disease to live their best lives.

Incorporating our values into our daily patient care and support operations lead our team to prioritize what’s important as we make decisions to advance our not-for-profit organization, while keeping our focus on our patients.

DCI’s Values:

»   Not-for-profit – We commit our resources to patient care, research, and education.

»   Mission Driven – We live our mission, and it drives every decision we make.

»   Patient Centered – We put patients first.

»   Physician Led – Physician founded and led, we rely on physicians to lead patient care and help shape our future.

»   Quality Focused – We continuously improve and innovate to advance patient care.

»   Caring Culture – Every person at DCI is essential to our mission, and together we help each other, and our patients thrive.




Dialysis Clinic, Inc.’s primary responsibility is providing comprehensive care for patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Our goal is complete patient rehabilitation. Our team creates individualized care plans based on each patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. We recognize patients as individuals shaped by family, community, genetics, life experience, habits, beliefs and emotions and each deserves the highest standard of care possible regardless of race, status or creed.

Simply put, our goal is to improve care in a safe and effective way. Once a patient’s treatment plan has been established, our team works together to provide the utmost care adhering to defined policies and procedures. Our team will help connect patients with available resources to improve their overall health.

Beyond our clinics, DCI operates as a not-for-profit corporation and generates research funds for kidney care advancements including treatments options to improve ESRD patient care. In addition, DCI invests in educating ESRD healthcare professionals. 



Dialysis Clinic, Inc.’s true beginning lies in the heartbreaks and successes of early dialysis. During the time of World War II in 1943, Willem Kolff invented the rotating drum, the first practical dialysis machine. Kolff’s invention was improved over time and inspired others to create new dialysis machines and tools. By 1948, the Kolff-Brigham Dialysis Machine and the Skeggs Leonards Plate Dialyzer were created. In 1952, the Guarino and Guarino Artificial Kidney was developed but it was not readily adopted over concerns of dialyzing fluid leaking into the blood. The same year, Inouye and Engleberg developed the Pressure Cooker Artificial Kidney, one of the first devices allowing doctors to determine how much excess fluid was being drawn out of a patient’s blood. In 1960, Dr. Fred Kiil invented the Kiil Dialyzer in Norway allowing overnight and unattended hemodialysis, which was pioneered by Dr. Belding Scribner and team in Seattle. Dr. Scribner and his team further advanced dialysis when they opened the Northwest Kidney Center, the first outpatient dialysis center, in a converted hotel also in Seattle.

The need for dialysis greatly outweighed the availability. There were six available stations at the Northwest Kidney Center and a waiting list for patients who needed to use them. At the time, patients with diabetes, lupus, any other complicating medical issue, or over age 45 wouldn’t be referred for dialysis. Those referred for dialysis would be placed on a list with other potential patients which was reviewed by an anonymous panel who decided who should receive treatment. There weren’t enough resources to treat everyone. If a patient was selected to receive dialysis and given the chance to live, he or she encountered an overwhelming treatment cost.

As the numbers of patients seeking dialysis treatment grew in the late 1960s, Dr. H. Keith Johnson had completed his Army service and was finishing his nephrology training at the VA Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Johnson oversaw dialysis for acute patients at a three-station unit, while also supporting the kidney transplant program, delivering home training, caring for a few chronic patients and navigating the few resources available. After months of 16-hour days dialyzing chronic patients who desperately needed treatment until the early morning hours, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ron Watham began considering a freestanding dialysis unit modeled after the success of Seattle’s Northwest Kidney Center.

In early 1970, Dr. Johnson began exploring starting a Nashville clinic and turned to his father, Dr. Harry Johnson, a practicing physician in New York, for advice. Dr. Harry Johnson had established a foundation focusing on preventative medicine and provided annual checkups to keep patients healthy. He challenged his son to make the freestanding dialysis clinic a reality, offering to provide seed money through his foundation. The idea then became a reality.


In December 1970, Dialysis Clinic, Inc. was beginning to take shape and Dr. Johnson and his team contemplated whether DCI would be for-profit or a not-for-profit entity. At that time, 80 percent of patients referred for dialysis lacked insurance funding. The team knew that many couldn’t afford treatment and would face the choice of mortgaging their homes, spending their children’s college funds or returning home to die. Dr. Johnson and his team refused to benefit from this situation and unanimously decided to pursue nonprofit status, while earmarking any excess revenues for kidney disease research and education. In the following months, Dialysis Clinic, Inc. was established, a location was secured, arrangements to move Vanderbilt Medical Center patients were made, and, in May 1971, the DCI clinic doors opened and patients began dialyzing.


The location was a 1,000 sq. ft. refurbished home on 21st Avenue in Nashville, Tenn. Nurses and physicians quickly adapted to the new environment outside of the hospital and worked together to prioritize patient care. DCI adopted and prioritized the mission, “The care of the patient is our reason for existence” with doctors, nurses and the administrator working together to provide the utmost care.


However, finding funding for patients who couldn’t afford treatment consumed them all. Paying for dialysis treatments was not easy. In 1971, there was no Medicare funding and most patients did not have treatment insurance coverage. That didn’t stop DCI staff from providing patient treatments; it motivated them to find a solution.


With patient pictures pasted onto Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets, DCI doctors and staff collected donations at roadblocks set up at some of Nashville’s busiest intersections on weekend afternoons. They stood on hot pavement in the middle of traffic seeking the community’s generosity and would raise $10,000 on a good weekend to help provide for their patients. Thankfully, the Medicare ESRD Program began in 1973 and thousands of dialysis patients across the U.S. were then eligible for treatment that was and still is paid for by that program.


In the past 50 years, care costs keep rising while the dialysis Medicare payments have actually decreased. DCI has grown to serve more than 14,000 patients daily at more than 240 locations across the U.S. and has evolved to find ways to provide for patients along the kidney care continuum.

·      DCI Donor Services was created to provide for organ and tissue recovery and transplantation.

·      Camp Okawehna was established for pediatric renal patients to experience one of the childhood rites of passage.

·      REACH Kidney Care was founded in 2012 to empower patients to manage their personal health and slow progression of kidney disease.

DCI is the only national leading dialysis provider to have remained under its own control since its founding. We have proudly and successfully remained a not-for-profit organization while our staff provides care that is consistently better than our larger for-profit competitors according to the U.S. Government.