More than 100 people attended the July 15 stop of the KidneyMobile at Loretto Hospital, 645 S. Central.

Parked near the hospital’s emergency room entrance, the bright blue and red mid-sized RV van has toured Illinois this summer, providing information about the dangers of high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) partnered with Loretto Hospital to bring the “mobile classroom” to the Austin community. The July 15 visit was the first ever to Austin for the KidneyMobile.

Packed with facts and visual aides on topics such as unhealthy foods and the lack of exercise people participate in, the mobile appeared to hold everyone’s attention.

With temperatures well above 90, visitors were mostly in the air-conditioned van or inside at Loretto’s screening lab trying to keep cool.

Aldermen Ed Smith and Isaac Carothers, State Rep. Deborah Graham and commisioner and interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele took a tour of van to show their support.

“The Austin area is an under-served area and has one of the highest percentages of high blood pressure, diabetes, and different health issues in Chicago, and we are uninformed on how to prevent or treat our health issues,” said Graham about the need for increased health awareness.

The KidneyMobile arrived in Austin the week before, visiting surrounding neighborhoods of the hospital to inform the community when the free health screenings would take place.

Many came out July 15 to take a screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, including one woman, who asked that her name not be printed. She found out that she had high blood pressure, and was concerned if her children had it.

“I know I don’t eat right and don’t exercise much, but I didn’t realize I was passing my habits to my kids,” she said. “I am bringing them back so they can get tested.”

Along with people of all different ages participating, and mainly blacks, there was a large amount of men being screened.

The screening includes a urine sample, blood pressure reading, and a blood test. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes. After the test results are returned, a detailed summary was explained to the patient, who received additional information.

If the results showed a defect, the patient was referred to a specialist for further testing.

Untreated, diabetes and high blood pressure can cause kidney damage, disease, and/or kidney failure, which accounts for 70 percent of the new cases for chronic kidney disease.

“The highest risk of kidney disease is in the African American and Latino community, and it covers all different ages,” said Willa Lang, executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois.

The KidneyMobile will be rolling into other cities throughout the summer. For more information visit