March is National Kidney Month, a time when communities across the country raise awareness about kidney disease for the 37 million Americans and 4 million Californians who live with it every day. In an effort to further that goal, we are sharing the story of Sandy Mayuga, a Blue Shield of California member with kidney disease, who maintains an active and healthy lifestyle with support from our holistic kidney disease programming through Cricket Health.
Cricket Health is an innovative, personalized and comprehensive care-coordination program for people living with, or at risk for, chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease. It is available at no additional cost to members enrolled in our employer-based plans.
When Mayuga was in his second year of law school in the 1980s, he donated a kidney to a family member. At the time, he knew that this precious gift, together with his family’s medical history, could make him more susceptible to chronic kidney disease. Eventually, he was diagnosed with stage three kidney disease.
It wasn’t until the pandemic that Mayuga realized he wanted to be more proactive about managing his kidney health. Previously, like many patients, he had monitored his health through annual or semi-annual primary care visits and periodic lab reports. When he received a mailing from Blue Shield about the opportunity to join the Cricket program, he was intrigued.
“I have a single kidney and stage three chronic kidney disease. All my life, since donating my left kidney, I’ve maintained a very active lifestyle,” Mayuga said. “I’m looking forward to doing things with Cricket that will prevent the progression of my chronic kidney disease any further.”
Cricket has collaborated with Blue Shield to help serve members living with kidney disease, many of whom may not even be aware of their condition. Once they understand their risks, they have the opportunity to proactively take care of their kidney health by working with a Cricket care team to manage disease progression.
Through Cricket, Mayuga has a multidisciplinary care team who collaborates with his doctor to help him better manage his chronic kidney disease. His care team includes three professionals: a nurse, dietician, and pharmacist, who provide personalized guidance in between his regular visits to his doctors.
Mayuga says he appreciates that his care team goes beyond the general advice often given to kidney disease patients, such as to avoid salty foods or exercise more. For example, his pharmacist gives him specific recommendations on when to take his medication so that it cooperates best with other prescriptions. And when Mayuga was getting inconsistent readings on his blood pressure monitors, his Cricket team stepped in to help problem solve.
As Mayuga enters retirement, he wants to make sure his health keeps up with his goals of travelling and remaining active in some of his favorite hobbies, including kayaking. Together, he and his Cricket team are working to make sure his chronic kidney disease stays managed.
Since the collaboration with Cricket began in August 2020, more than 2,000 Blue Shield members who are living with or at risk of kidney disease have been invited to participate. This includes members identified to be high-risk based on Cricket’s predictive algorithm and analytics.
Cricket currently serves Blue Shield’s fully insured commercial population. To learn more about services available to you, contact Blue Shield member services -- (888) 256-3650 for plans through Blue Shield and (855) 836-9705 for plans through Covered California. To learn more about your eligibility to join Cricket Health’s care program, visit crickethealth.com/eligible.
This innovative kidney care is part of Blue Shield of California’s Health Reimagined initiative to transform the healthcare system for individuals, families and communities, and also address health inequities.