FMCNA Emergency Response Plans Ensure Access To Dialysis Treatments
Company Offers Tips to Help Patients Prepare for Severe Winter Storms
WALTHAM, Mass. – Dec. 15, 2014 – Weather forecasters aren’t expecting another “Polar Vortex” to create widespread sub-zero temperatures across the United States this winter. But they are expecting a weak “El Nino” ocean-warming pattern over the eastern Pacific Ocean to contribute to above-average precipitation across the southern and eastern states, as well as colder-than average temperatures along the eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast.
When severe weather hits, access to treatment can be a matter of life and death for dialysis patients, who require life-sustaining treatment typically three times a week to remove waste products and extra fluids from their blood after their kidneys have failed.
In anticipation of the coming winter’s blizzards, flooding and other weather-related emergencies, some of which could potentially interrupt treatments for its more than 174,000 North American dialysis patients, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), continues to update and refine its extensive disaster-response plans. FMCNA, the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, works closely throughout the year with local governments and community organizations such as the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Coalition to ensure that patients will be able to continue receiving uninterrupted treatments, medical supplies, medicines and lab services during emergencies.
To ensure that the needs of both patients and FMCNA clinical staff are met in times of emergency, the company’s Incident Command Team maintains a fleet of fully-equipped recreational vehicles and tractor trailers, as well as generators, fuel, food and medical supplies that can be quickly deployed following a natural disaster. It also activates an Emergency Hotline during disasters to help affected patients with emergency plans or information on arranging treatment at alternate facilities.
“Our emergency response plans have helped thousands of Fresenius Medical Care patients and staff prepare for, and successfully weather the impacts of hurricanes, floods, tornados and the most severe winter storms,” said Bill Numbers, FMCNA senior vice president of operations shared services and incident commander for disaster response and planning. “Our ultimate goal is always to ensure our patients’ welfare, even in the most difficult circumstances.”
Weathering Winter Emergencies
FMCNA recommends that dialysis patients prepare for winter storms and weather emergencies with:
Planning: Create a disaster preparedness plan ahead of time with your dialysis care team and family.
Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts and personal information with you at all times, including ID, insurance, type of dialysis treatment you’re on and a list of medications and allergies.
Forecasts: Monitor local weather forecasts, and be in touch with your dialysis facility when bad weather threatens.
Supplies: Pre-pack a bag with first-aid kit, flashlight and batteries, blankets, radio, cell phone and medications.
Food: Store three days of food that is compliant with your dialysis diet.
Transport: Arrange backup transport (for in-center dialysis patients) to your treatment clinic with friends, neighbors or family members.
Training: Review the directions given during training (for home dialysis patients) on how to continue dialysis when the power is out.Insulin: Adjust insulin dosage (for diabetics) as directed by a doctor if severe storms or flooding are imminent.
For more on FMCNA’s disaster response plans, as well as a link to an online guide from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on how dialysis patients and their caregivers can prepare for severe weather and other emergencies, see: www.ultracare-dialysis.com/DisasterResponse.
Patients seeking emergency help should call FMCNA’s toll-free Patient Emergency Hotline (activated during disasters) at: 1-800-626-1297.
About Fresenius Medical Care North America
Through its leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and 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. It is 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.
FMCNA has launched a company-wide program to provide flu shots to its 230,000 patients and staff this season, at no cost to the recipients. FMCNA will also donate $1 for every patient and employee vaccinated through this program to be allocated among charities supporting renal patients, and to the FMCNA CARES employee emergency relief fund. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness carried by airborne viruses and spread by sneezing and coughing. For vulnerable segments of the population, such as people with CKD and kidney failure, their condition and the demands of their life-sustaining treatment, leave them at greater risk for complications related to influenza. For more information on flu prevention, visit www.slugthebug.com.