Kidney Community Executes Rapid Response to Help Dialysis Patients Affected by Hurricane Harvey
September 8, 2017
Providers, patient advocate groups, physicians and manufacturers step up to provide relief to dialysis patients across the Texas Gulf region
WASHINGTON, DC – As thousands of dialysis patients in the Texas Gulf region face the reality of being stranded without access to vital health care treatments, Kidney Care Partners and its community of dialysis providers, patient advocates, physicians and product manufacturers are working to provide immediate, essential care to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Members of Kidney Care Partners – a coalition of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers and manufacturers dedicated to working together to improve quality of care for individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – are drawing upon previous partnerships amid natural disasters to ensure the thousands of dialysis patients in the Texas region continue to receive routine, life-sustaining care.
“After coming together during the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and in subsequent large-scale natural disasters, the dialysis community has learned how to work quickly and efficiently to make care available where it’s needed most, help patients access it, and put financial resources where they can truly help,” said Frank Maddux, Chair of Kidney Care Partners. “Our patients don’t have the luxury of missing their scheduled treatments as Houston and surrounding areas recover from this storm. Without dialysis, their bodies will not function properly.”
In addition to the heroic efforts of individuals – like Dr. Michael Braun, chief of the pediatric nephrology center at Texas Children’s Hospital, who worked with the National Coast Guard to save dozens of dialysis patients who were stuck in the storm and unable to seek treatment – the larger dialysis community has joined forces.
Two of the country’s largest dialysis providers, Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) and DaVita (DVA), have undertaken coordinated efforts to keep as many facilities open as possible, and to assist with patient transportation.
Fresenius Medical Care, with 48 clinics in the Houston area, rented boats, duck boats and high water vehicles for transporting medical supplies and supplies for displaced employees, as well as rescuing patients and making sure they are able to get to a treatment center. They also brought in fuel tankers and generators and rented RVs and vehicles for their employees. From across the country, FMC employees came together to support patients and colleagues in the Texas Gulf region, on the ground to provide direct patient care, at the multiple command centers and coordinating resources.
With more than 100 facilities serving 7,500 patients in the Houston area, DaVita engaged its Village Emergency Response Team (DaVERT) last week to bring generators, water tank, and medical supplies to affected facilities. To date, 98 of 106 clinics are now fully operational. More than 500 DaVita employees traveled to Houston to help local teams locate and treat patients during the days of flooding.
Patient advocate groups, like the American Kidney Fund (AKF) and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), have established disaster relief resources, call centers, and emergency funds. Any donations made to AKF’s rapid-response Disaster Relief Program or to NKF’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will be used to provide dialysis patients with transportation to clinics, medications, shelter, utilities, food, clothing or any other urgent needs.
Some of the organizations among the kidney community who have contributed to the AKF’s Disaster Relief Program include the National Renal Administrators Association (NRAA), American Society of Nephrology, Amgen Foundation, DaVita, U.S. Renal Care, Keryx, American Renal Associates and OPKO. AKF has so far been able to distribute nearly $100,000 in emergency aid to more than 400 dialysis patients across the Texas region, while continuing to receive dozens of new requests for assistance each day. AKF is also leveraging its large social media network to provide patients and caregivers with resources for how they can help.
Members of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology in the region kept in close contact with patient families to ensure approximately 33 area children with kidney failure – from babies to young adults – were able to receive their dialysis care. Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, both located among the hardest-hit areas, worked closely with the Coast Guard and the Texas Department of Emergency Management to create a map of Houston that pinpointed the location of each child, then coordinated with emergency teams to reach pediatric patients and get them to dialysis. One such rescue involved a medevac helicopter landing in a flooded neighborhood to reach a young girl who was in desperate need of dialysis care.
Manufacturer Baxter, who makes dialysis products, continues to reach out to those affected in Texas by supporting employees on the ground who are working tirelessly to deliver life-saving products to local hospitals and renal clinics. The Baxter International Foundation has also made a financial contribution to several relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, Americares, and Direct Relief to address all recovery needs.
“In spite of the storm’s devastation across the area, dialysis patients have found hope and relief thanks to the quick and coordinated efforts of the kidney care community,” concluded Dr. Maddux. “Without the tireless work of thousands of volunteers and caregivers in the region, including the coordination of call centers and the allocation of emergency funds and resources, none of this would be possible. I am awestruck by our community’s dedication to providing care – no matter the barriers – to the patients we serve. We must continue to come together and dedicate our attention and resources in the face of future natural disasters. I am confident our community will rise to these challenges for the benefit of our patients.”