When Nicholas Ross began working at Baxter's Opelika, Ala., facility while attending nearby Auburn University, he didn't know what to expect. As a mechanical engineer student, he wasn't sure exactly what he wanted to do within engineering, but an initial tour of the Opelika facility intrigued him.
"The possibility of working for a company that makes life-sustaining medical products was inspiring," said Ross, 24, of Pensacola, Fla. "As an engineer, the high level of automation used to manufacture dialyzers was interesting. But when I realized the medical importance of dialysis treatment, I was excited to work at a place where I could contribute to something so important."
"Every day, there is that moment when I walk through the doors and see our mission statement posted on the wall of the production room. It helps remind me that I personally have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many patients."— Nicholas Ross
Baxter employee at the Opelika, Ala., manufacturing facility
Ross started at Opelika as an engineering co-op student and became a process engineer after graduating from college. Now, as a process engineer, Ross ensures the plant runs as efficiently as possible. This involves everything from reducing scrap and cycle times, to ensuring day-to-day machine reliability and tracking down and solving issues. The end goal is to create the highest quality product that patients can rely on, because hemodialysis therapy (HD) is a lifeline - replacing a critical function that their bodies cannot handle anymore.
Currently, there are nearly two million patients worldwide with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving HD1. A growing population with diabetes, blood pressure issues and other key causes of kidney disease means the incidence rate of ESRD and the need for dialysis is also growing more than five percent annually around the world.
To help meet the growing need for dialysis treatment, last year, Baxter began expansion of the Opelika facility to help address the demand for dialyzers, a critical component in HD therapy.
"Knowing the products we make help sustain the lives of patients gives real meaning to the work that I do every day," Ross said. Although he does not have direct interaction with patients, he and his colleagues in Opelika "still feel the weight of the importance of what they are doing."
"Every day, there is that moment when I walk through the doors and see our mission statement posted on the wall of the production room. It helps remind me that I personally have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many patients."
1. Anand S, Bilton A, Gaziano T (2013) The Gap between Estimated Incidence of End-Stage Renal Disease and Use of Therapy. Plos ONE 8(8): e72860. dol: 10.137/journal.pone 0072860.