Just one day after Hurricane Isaac moved out of the Gulf Coast region, leaving behind a trail of storm damage and more than 800,000 people without power, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, resumed treatment for all patients at its 150 affected dialysis facilities.
Whenever hurricanes, tornados or other natural disasters strike, FMCNA takes extraordinary measures to help meet the health care needs of kidney dialysis patients – who require treatment every two to three days to stay alive and healthy. Ahead of the hurricane, the company activated an emergency hotline. Operators secured treatments for patients, and New Orleans-area staff members traveled to Jackson, Miss. to set up temporary operations to provide phone lines and electricity for patient communication and treatment.
Despite their personal struggles in the storm, FMCNA employees across the region found ways to serve patients. Patient intake coordinator Regina Barnett evacuated 180 miles from her home in Metairie, La. Unable to contact her own family, she still worked to get patients, including other evacuees, the dialysis they needed. “Knowing that I am a part of helping people get the life-sustaining care they need, makes me feel better, even when I don’t know yet about the condition of my own home,” she said.
Howie Ngo, also a patient intake coordinator from Metairie, is working temporarily in Richland, Miss., where the company has provided evacuated staff members with meals, emergency cash and hotel rooms. “I couldn’t believe an employer stepped in like that. It brought me to tears,” he said. “It’s amazing what this company will do to make sure that its employees and patients are taken care of.”Throughout the ordeal, the FMCNA Disaster Response Team, assisted by divisional, technical and regional employees, worked with the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Coalition and local ESRD networks to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Isaac. FMCNA delivered generators, fuel, diesel, bottled water and warm meals to facilities and employees in need, many of whom were working extra shifts and overtime. Staff provided extra treatments to patients who were expected to be affected by the storm, arranged for all patients whose clinics were closed to receive treatment at alternative facilities, and provided treatments to patients from other dialysis companies whose clinics had closed without alternative arrangements in place. FMCNA’s natural disaster response plan has been tested and validated many times in recent years, from Hurricanes Ike and Katrina to last year’s tornados and floods.