Disasters of all kinds can cause widespread damage, destruction and loss of life. For the more than 450,000 people in the US on dialysis, they can present a barrier to the life-sustaining therapy they need every other day, making them one of the most vulnerable segments of the population during any disaster.
When roads are closed, power is lost and buildings are destroyed, patients can be cut off from dialysis treatments, clinical staff, medications and supplies. That's when Fresenius Medical Care North America's Disaster Response Incident Command protocols result in fast action.
Our Emergency Hotline is activated during disasters. We also post announcements on our website and work with the media to instruct patients. With our affiliates Renal Therapies Group, Spectra Laboratories, TruBlue Logistics and Fresenius Vascular Care, we repair, replace or warehouse dialysis machines and equipment; process lab work from across the country; ship medicines and supplies to where they are needed most; and provide vascular care to patients whose vascular access is their lifeline connection to dialysis.
Fresenius Medical Care provides critically needed support to patients and staff during disasters
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 treatment, 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.
What dialysis patients and their caregivers can do to prepare for when disaster strikes
People who receive dialysis, whether in a center or at home, should have a backup plan to prepare for disasters that may make it difficult or impossible to get their treatments. This includes having enough food, water and medicine to last for at least three days.
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.
The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Coalition offers a Guide with more helpful tips for dialysis patients.