Newswise — Kansas City, MO): Kate Kinney, ACNP, Monroe Clinic Hospital, Monroe, WI, has been awarded the Vasculitis Foundation’s 2016 Recognizing Excellence in Diagnostics (RED) Award.

The VF-RED Award is presented annually to a medical professional who made a quick diagnosis of vasculitis, thus enabling the patient to receive timely and appropriate treatment, potentially sparing the patient permanent and ongoing health complications.

“The goal of the VF-RED Award is to honor these healthcare professionals because they are a part of our goal to raise awareness about the need for earlier diagnosis of vasculitis,” says Joyce Kullman, Executive Director of the Vasculitis Foundation. “So often our patients fail to get an early diagnosis because vasculitis symptoms can mimic so many other conditions. We created the VF-RED Award to single out those medical professionals who did catch the disease in its early stages, thus improving the outcome for the patient.”

Kinney was nominated for the award by her patient, Michael Gunderson, a resident of Davis, Illinois. Gunderson was suffering from chronic symptoms that included severe sinus infections, joint swelling, and fatigue. When the symptoms grew worse and didn’t respond to multiple courses of antibiotics, Gunderson went to Kinney who works as a hospitalist at the Monroe Clinic.

Kinney and her medical team analyzed Gunderson’s medical history to search out a possible underlying cause for the chronic symptoms. She got a clue from Gunderson, who told her that an ENT once suggested he might have vasculitis, a rare autoimmune condition whose symptoms can mimic other common illnesses. However, numerous specialists who saw Gunderson didn’t suspect anything unusual.

What Kinney ultimately discovered from a lung biopsy was that Gunderson’s condition was anything but ordinary.

She confirmed that Gunderson did have a rare, and serious autoimmune condition called Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA/Wegener’s) vasculitis. The disease affects the upper and lower respiratory system and frequently involves the kidneys, lungs, eyes, ears, throat, skin and other body organs.Once Kinney made the diagnosis, doctors were able to begin the standard therapies to treat his vasculitis. Gunderson credits Kinney’s tenacity and team-centered approach to her work as a major factor for catching the rare disease before it could cause further damage to his health.

“We were grateful that someone finally made a diagnosis, and that I was going to start an aggressive treatment plan, and maybe, just maybe, get me well again,” says Gunderson. “Without the GPA diagnosis by Kate, I think I can safely say I wouldn't be here.”

Kinney was awarded the VF-RED Award during a recognition ceremony at the Monroe Clinic earlier this year.

About the Vasculitis FoundationSince 1986, the Vasculitis Foundation has empowered patients through disease education, raising awareness of vasculitis in the general public and medical community, and funding research to determine the cause, develop more effective treatments, and discover a cure.

The VF is committed to improving the lives of current and future patients and is positioned as the definitive resource for patients, family members, medical professionals and researchers seeking information about vasculitis.The Vasculitis Foundation: