In anticipation of Tropical Storm Karen, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, has activated its Incident Command Team to begin implementing plans to ensure continued patient care throughout the Gulf Coast, which may be affected by the storm. While storms and other natural disasters can be inconvenient and even life-threatening for entire communities, they pose an especially serious health threat to dialysis patients whose treatments are delayed by flooding, electrical power outages or an inability to access their normal treatment locations. Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) typically need dialysis treatment every two days to clean waste products from their blood and remove extra fluids because their kidneys have failed. The Fresenius Medical Care Incident Command Team, assisted by divisional, technical and regional employees, works closely with local governments and community organizations such as the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Coalition to prepare for and respond quickly to a variety of disasters. FMCNA is ready to deliver a variety of supplies, including generators, fuel, bottled water and meals, to facilities and employees affected by this storm. FMCNA staff are also providing extra treatment shifts for patients at clinics anticipated to be affected by the storm, including clinics that may be required to close. Patients seeking help with emergency plans or more information about arranging treatment at alternate dialysis clinics should call their local facility. FMCNA recommends that dialysis patients have the following plans in place:
- Phone numbers. Keep an emergency contacts list, and call your dialysis facility when bad weather threatens.
- Disaster plan. Talk to your dialysis care team and family ahead of time about what to do in a disaster. Monitor local weather forecasts.
- Emergency supplies. Pre-pack a first-aid kit, flashlight and batteries, blankets, radio, cell phone, food, can opener and medications.
- Transportation. In-center patients should arrange with a friend, neighbor or family member for backup transportation to their clinic.
- Power outages. Home dialysis patients should follow the directions given during home training for continuing dialysis in an emergency.
- Adjust insulin. Diabetics should ask their doctor how to adjust their insulin dosage if severe flooding or storms are forecast for their area.
“Advance preparation helps us to ensure uninterrupted dialysis treatments for our patients,” said Bill Numbers, Vice President of Operations Support and Incident Commander for Disaster Response and Planning. “FMCNA’s resources and national partnerships give us the ability to coordinate the delivery of resources from across the country to any locale within hours of a disaster.”FMCNA’s natural disaster response plan has been tested and validated many times in recent years, from Hurricanes Sandy, Ike and Katrina, to last year’s series of severe thunderstorms, which left a trail of property destruction and power outages stretching from Illinois to New Jersey. As part of its business plan for continuous quality improvement, the company has incorporated the lessons learned from each of these events to improve its processes, resulting in very effective disaster response capabilities. For more information on FMCNA’s disaster response efforts and important tips to help patients prepare for any emergency, visit FMCNA’s Disaster Response website. About Fresenius Medical Care North AmericaThrough our leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and our vascular access centers, laboratory, pharmacy and affiliated hospitals and nephrology practices, Fresenius Medical Care provides renal services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. We are also the continent’s top producer of dialysis equipment, dialyzers and related disposable products and a major supplier of renal pharmaceuticals. For more information about the company, visit www.fmcna.com; for information about patient services, visit www.ultracare-dialysis.com.