Dialysis and Hurricanes

hurricane evac

June is the beginning of the Hurricane Season and with them come tornadoes inland.  If you live in an area hit by either storm type, take heed!

We learned a lot about disaster prep  here in Texas after Katrina.  The ESRD Network members got together and produced a great website and accompanying materials.  They started the TEEC, Texas ESRD Emergency Coalition. See their website for very important and valuable information!

However, there are still patients and centers that aren’t paying attention and are learning the hard way.  The DPC tweeted this during one past hurricane:

Woman who requires #dialysis was rescued from Plaquemines Parish and taken to the hospital…so important to evacuate when you are told to!

You’d think someone in a hurricane-prone area would know better but perhaps she’s new to the scene or too old and feeble.  Who knows?

The Social Worker at my center mentioned that she took in a patient on the day after a hurricane hit.  She came with her dialysis information dated from over a year ago previously.  The patient’s center didn’t have more recent information!? That center was obviously unprepared for the hurricane/storm.  When the SW called the center to get more recent patient data, there was no answer, no message telling patients what to do and where to call for help.  They abandoned ship!  We can all learn from that but you’d think a center in a hurricane area would have been ahead of the curve.  Ask your center about their Disaster Planning and point them to the TEEC website.  Get phone numbers to call in an emergency!  Davita and Fresenius and other providers’ patients can call their corporate centers to get emergency help and guidance.  Here are some:

  • DaVita: 800-400-8331
  • Fresenius: 800-626-1297
  • DCI: 866-424-1990
  • DCI Donor Hotline/Transient Patients: 800-969-4438
  • DSI: 877-374-3375
  • ARA: 888-880-6867
  • RAI: 800-403-2530

Don’t wait to look for these phone numbers in an emergency.  That’s too late!  Write down the number for your center and provider, doctor, hospital (and alternative site in case of a major disaster), etc. Place that information in a waterproof bag and keep it handy.  

The important thing is that you’re not in a bad position by reason of ignorance.  The storms of recent years have been really out of the ordinary.  Areas that rarely see disasters are experiencing them.  So, if you’re a patient or caregiver, get prepared.  See my posting about “Dialysis and Disaster Planning”

Fresenius (a dialysis provider) sent out a news release before the Isaac hit, warning patients about it and providing some good information about being prepared:

Fresenius Medical Care, the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, offers the following disaster preparedness tips for dialysis patients:

  1. Keep your emergency phone numbers handy. When bad weather threatens, contact your local facility and follow instructions they may provide. In a disaster, Fresenius Medical Care offers a patient hotline at 1-800-626-1297 for patients who need help finding the nearest open dialysis facility. The hotline is staffed by customer service specialists who can provide locations and contact numbers for alternate facilities, if necessary.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Create an Emergency 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.
  5. 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 and vegetables. Periodically check expiration dates of food items in the kit and replace when needed.

Note: Anyone who needs dialysis, whether or not they are a Fresenius Medical Care patient, can call 1-800-626-1297 to find the nearest open clinic. For more information on preparing for a disaster, visit www.ultracare-dialysis.com and click on “Be Prepared.”

Also, the Kidney Community Emergency Response Center (part of the ESRD National Coordinating Center) has a newly released website.  Check it out.  There’s a lot of valuable information.

Here’s the rub.  In an emergency, you may not have time and the power may be out so you can’t find these sources when you might absolutely need them.  So, write down these important phone numbers.  In case of a natural disaster and phone service is not available in your area and you have to evacuate, you may finally get to cell services and be able to make the calls.

I keep a backpack with all my information such as machine settings and such and all my important papers.  In case of emergency, I can grab the backpack and run.  Also, I am registered with the local emergency services with our county so they are aware that I’ll need to get to a dialysis center within a couple days.  All this advanced planning will make an impossible situation more possible.

Don’t put if off any longer, consider the risks and prepare accordingly.

© 2014 DevonTexas

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About DevonTexas

I am a person with ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) which means my kidneys don't work. Forty or so years ago that would have been a death sentence but today there is Dialysis which means I can be hooked up to a machine that will clean my blood as the kidneys should. Three days a week, I go to a center and have too very large needles stuck in my arm to remove and replace my blood as it passes through a process where it's cleaned and the fluid is removed, a process taking a little over four hours each time. I want to advance knowledge about dialysis so that other patients can learn from my experience and mistakes. We shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel, eh? There is so much to be learned and experienced about our predicament. There are vast resources available to support us and enrich our lives but many patients don't know about them. There are also many issues that we have to deal with whether we want to or not. So I blog about them. All comments are confidential until I approve them. If you don't want your comment public, let me know and I will respect that. So, feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy.
This entry was posted in activism, dialysis, Dialysis Center, Dialysis Patient Citizens, dietary restictions, disaster planning, DPC, ESRD, Home dialysis, Insurance, New Patient, patient care and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dialysis and Hurricanes

  1. auntyuta says:

    It’s good to be prepared for such emergencies. I am sure your post can help a lot of people in your area. Where I live here in Australia we have to be prepared for bush fires during very hot, dry months. And of course some parts of Australia can be flood prone. We are lucky in Australia in that the emergency services always give up to date information on-line and on local radio.

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