In April 2023, Interwell Health joined The American Society of Transplantation's (AST) Living Donor Circle of Excellence program, pledging to fully support employees with significant time off and salary support when donating an organ. At Interwell, employees can receive up to eight weeks of paid leave when donating a kidney or other organ.
Leslie Glenn, Chief People Officer for Interwell Health, discusses the company's decision to make living organ donation easier for employees.
Q: What is the AST Circle of Excellence?
LG: “The Circle” was created in 2020 as a way to encourage and celebrate companies that create internal policies which reduce the burden on living donors. With almost 100,000 people waiting for a new kidney that could greatly enhance their quality of life, this program aims to reduce the financial barriers that might dissuade this incredible gift of life. The total recovery time for a living donor is between four to six weeks, and too often people are forced to take vacation time or unpaid leave. HR policies that support organ donation can make a difference. We are excited to join this special group of employers who have made a commitment to supporting living donors.
Q: Why did Interwell decide to become part of this program?
LG: Our mission is to reimagine healthcare and help patients live their best lives. We care deeply about the people we serve. We can't live up to our mission unless we live our values every day in the way we support our employees. Many of our employees have either received a kidney donation or their families have been directly impacted by kidney disease. By joining the Circle of Excellence, we are ensuring our own employees have the financial support and time to impact a life in the most profound way possible.
Q: Interwell provides eight weeks of leave at full pay for a living organ donation and five days for a bone marrow donation, which goes well beyond the base requirement of 80% pay for four weeks. Why did Interwell go a step further?
LG: While many people can recover from an organ donation in as little as four weeks, we don't want time for assessments, pre-op appointments, recovery after surgery, or follow-up visits to be a barrier in any way. We don't want employees to sacrifice any compensation. We want to encourage this incredible gift. By extending this financial support and leave to eight weeks we can ensure that if someone is willing to provide a new kidney to someone in need, there is nothing holding them back.
Q: How does Interwell's mission help support the road to transplant for our patients?
LG: Every day our team works with patients living with kidney disease, educating them about their treatment options including transplant. We are working to help identify kidney disease earlier, slow progression, and help people avoid dialysis entirely through a pre-emptive transplant. A living donation is considered the gold standard for treatment, which can come from a relative, friend, or even an altruistic donor. It just makes sense that a company with this incredible mission to help people with kidney disease live their best lives would support and empower its own employees to make that a reality.