When John D. Bower, MD, arrived at the University Medical Center in Mississippi in 1965, a dialysis machine was almost unheard of and renal disease diagnosis was a death sentence. It was not long after his arrival that Dr. Bower applied for and received one of the first public health service grants to study dialysis and UMMC opened the state's first dialysis unit by 1966. Dialysis worked, but it was expensive and not everyone could afford it. In 1972, Dr. Bower was one of few influential doctors to help persuade Congress to pass Legislation H.R. 1, declaring persons with end-stage renal disease eligible for Medicare. Suddenly, the problem with dialysis shifted from affordability to accessibility, because people were driving hundreds of miles for treatment, and the treatment facilities were full. With the problems of accessibility to renal care in mind, Dr. Bower founded Kidney Care Inc. with the goal to establish dialysis facilities and services within 30 miles of any patient's home. Kidney Care was the embodiment of everything Dr. Bower had strived for, including years of specialization in nephrology, policy change on a congressional level, and statewide accessibility to treatment. Within the 23 years of its existence, Dr. Bower and his dedicated staff of health care providers opened up dialysis facilities in 22 different cities.
Dr. Bower with Vice Chancellor LouAnn Woodward (left) and Anne Travis (right).
As Dr. Bower approached retirement, Kidney Care merged with other dialysis programs and Vanderbilt University in 1996 to form Renal Care Group, Inc. The proceeds from this transaction were used to form the Kidney Care Foundation, which was later renamed the Bower Foundation after Dr. Bower's retirement in 2000.Today the Bower Foundation supports innovative strategies to improve the health of Mississippians. Their work focuses on four primary goals: