Hall Carter was recently named the new executive director of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation. The Memphis native has worked for several U.S. senators, most recently serving as Sen. Roger Wicker’s executive assistant and scheduler. Carter’s experience includes non-profit work, including serving on the board of the Taste of the South held in Washington D.C. Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in U.S. history from Sewanee. Carter recently spoke with Sun reporter Nikki Rowell about the kidney foundation and its work in the area.
What does your new position with the foundation entail?
“So, as executive director of the foundation, I have my hands in a little bit of everything - fundraising, coordination between kidney dialysis patients, doctors, social workers, dieticians - any way to improve the lives of kidney patients if they need emergency assistance. We have people who call to do kidney screenings across the state, so we help coordinate those. We have someone who goes out and does those. It’s just a little bit of everything. It is a lot of fundraising though.”
What brought you out of the political field and into non-profit work?
“I just decided I wanted to do something different, but I still wanted to help people. I was ready to leave D.C. and be closer to family in Memphis and Fairhope. Since I had been working for Senator Wicker for the past eight years, it just seemed to make sense to come to Jackson. I have fallen in love with the people of Mississippi.”
How does the foundation provide emergency aid to Mississippi kidney patients?
“It could be a little bit of everything. We work closely with social workers at each dialysis unit to help us identify the needs. It is on a temporary basis that it’s offered. It may be that someone is having difficulty paying their power bill that month or they need money to get to their dialysis treatments, which are three times a week for four hours each time. It’s help paying for prescription medication or if they have a fire. Maybe there is a way we could help find donations to help furnish things for their home. You know, we can’t do everything, but we try to do as much as we can and provide as much assistance as possible.”
What sort of awareness programs does the foundation provide?
“People have wellness fairs or groups of people get together, and they want to have us come do their screenings. It isn’t a routine test for kidney disease. So, a lot of times, people think they’re being tested, but they might not actually be getting tested because it is not a routine test. We have registered nurses and volunteers at the screenings to educate people as they wait in line. We have all kinds of brochures that we put out about kidney disease. Everything that goes out with our name on it, we try to include information with it. From our annual calendar that we publish, to fans for people in churches or festivals.”
Why is this important to spread awareness in this area and to the state as a whole?
“Mississippi is last in so many things. We don’t have to be last in kidney disease treatment and kidney disease prevention. I think it is important because the disease goes mostly undetected until it’s bad. Bad, as in, you need dialysis immediately or a transplant. A lot of times, kidney disease is hereditary. So, if your family members have kidney disease, go and get tested. Come to one of our free testings. If you catch it early enough, you can prevent yourself from having to go to dialysis. Going to dialysis is a full-time job for many people. If you come by, and you get stuck, it takes 30 seconds for us to tell you if you are in the range for kidney disease. It’s that easy. Why not do it?”
Can you tell me about some of the events that the foundation hosts throughout the year?
“Besides our screenings that we do, we have our annual walk coming up on Saturday, October 6, in Fondren in Jackson. And then, every year we host the Uptown Drawdown Gala. It’s our other big fundraiser. We usually do that in the spring. We are hoping to have some more events. We want to get out there and get engaged.”
What do those funds go toward?
“They all stay in the State of Mississippi. All of the funds that we raise – I can’t stress that enough – all go to Mississippi kidney patients. We have pediatric patients, too. It’s not just adult patients. The money goes to emergency assistance for them. It goes to pay for our screenings, so that we can offer them for free across the state. It goes to our educational items that we hand out for free to people.”
What are some ways that Northsiders can be proactive about their kidney health?
“Get tested. Come get tested. I am not a doctor, but come ask us questions. Visit our website, we have facts on there about kidney disease. If you have high blood pressure or history of kidney disease in your family, if you have diabetes, all these sometimes can be contributing factors to kidney disease, what they call the silent killer.”