Watch now to see Fresenius Medical Care's Disaster Response Team respond to Hurricane Sandy.
About 26 million people in the United States have kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation, and more than 360,000 of them are on dialysis. These patients represent one of the most vulnerable segments of the population during a natural disaster. They typically need dialysis every two days; when storms disrupt electrical power or make routine travel to treatments impractical, any substantial delay in dialysis care can be life-threatening.
“People on dialysis need it to live. It is very important for every dialysis patient to make sure they have backup plans in case a disaster strikes,” states Bill Numbers, Vice President of Operations Support and Incident Commander for Disaster Response and Planning at Fresenius Medical Care. “Dialysis patients should prepare to be self-sufficient for three days—including having enough food, water, and medicine. And they should know where to find dialysis care.”
FMCNA’s disaster response plan has been tested and validated many times in recent years, from Hurricanes Sandy, Ike, Isaac, and Katrina to tornadoes, floods, ice storms and severe thunderstorms. When such events occur, FMCNA coordinates efforts across all levels of the company, so that staff can provide patients with dialysis treatments, equipment and supplies, medicines and lab services. Fresenius Medical Care’s Incident Command Team – assisted by divisional, technical and regional employees, local governments and community organizations such as the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Coalition – work overtime to prepare for and respond to disasters. FMCNA and its partners continue to coordinate a variety of critical activities, such as:
- Providing extra treatment opportunities to patients at clinics affected by the disaster.
- Arranging treatments for patients served by closed clinics, including patients from other dialysis companies whose clinics are closed.
- Delivering generators, fuel, bottled water, warm meals and other necessary supplies to facilities so they can resume treating patients.
- Supplying motor homes filled with personal supplies and generators to employees who lost homes or whose homes are not safe to occupy so they can be there for our patients.
Here is a checklist of important tips to help you prepare for any emergency:
- Carry your up-to-date personal information with you at all times (ID, medication and allergy lists, insurance, emergency contact information, type of dialysis treatment).
- Talk to your doctor and family about your evacuation plan—what you should do and where you should go if a disaster strikes. Keep track of local weather forecasts.
- Create a disaster kit with emergency supplies and at least one extra three-day supply of medicines. Many patients find it convenient to keep medicines and medical supplies in an easy-to-carry fanny pack or backpack.
- Store a three-day supply of food based on your emergency meal plan. Speak with your healthcare team about when to begin following your emergency plan. Limit fluid intake to two cups per 24 hours and avoid fresh fruit or vegetables.
- In-center patients should arrange with a friend, neighbor or family member for back-up transportation to their clinic.
- Home dialysis patients should follow the directions given during home training for continuing dialysis in an emergency.
- Diabetics should ask their doctor how to adjust their insulin dosage if severe flooding or storms are forecast for their area.