Dialysis providers respond to Hurricane Harvey
Dozens of dialysis clinics remained closed Monday night in reaction to massive flooding along the Texas Gulf Coast from Hurricane Harvey. Coastal towns and big cities like Houston were overwhelmed with 120 MPH winds and more than 30 inches of rainfall over a three-day period.
According to the Texas Emergency ESRD Coalition (TECC), 59 clinics were still closed as of Monday night in Houston, 11 in Fulshear, and five in Corpus Christi. Many providers stated on the TEEC website that the clinics were closed due to flooding, no power, or because staff could not get to the clinic. Some clinics that were open were limiting treatments to two hours.
Some dialysis clinics started taking steps a week ago to prepare for the storm, which knocked out power to over 300,000 customers, and saw emergency personnel rescue more than 2,000 people from flooded homes. Fresenius Medical Care North America spokesperson Kate Dobbs said clinic personnel in Corpus Christie, Houston, and in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area began holding emergency preparedness calls twice daily to begin looking at ways to get patient treated before the pending storm.
By Friday, three clinics were closed in Corpus Christie, Dobbs told NN&I, and 25 clinics were closed north of there up through Houston by Saturday. “We dialyzed as many patients as possible before closing those clinics, and all patients have been given their emergency packets,” she said. “We prepared our clinics outside of the impact zone for an influx of transient patients.”
A DaVita Kidney Care blog indicated that the company has 16 clinics still open in Houston and in Corpus Christi on Monday. Spokesperson Ashley Henson said that approximately 150 DaVita centers were in the storm’s path, with more than 700 patients and 120 staff members directly impacted in the Corpus Christi area alone. Patients from the closed clinics were being transferred to San Antonio, Brownsville, Houston, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley to get treatments.
“We have taken actions to communicate evacuation orders with patients, obtained updated patient contact information, tracked where patients will be transferred and held regular scheduled check-ins with local teams,” she said. “All patients have been provided with medical information (prescription, dietary instructions and fluid restrictions) so that they can share this with their new treatment teams. We made efforts to have patients dialyze before the storm.”
Steve Fadem, a Houston nephrologist who treats patients at the city’s Veterans Administration Center’s dialysis unit and DaVita’s Medical Center, which handles dialysis for more than 300 patients, said getting patients and staff into the clinic past flooded roadways was the biggest problem.
In Houston, dialysis treatments continued on Friday and through Saturday afternoon as the storm appeared to be slowing down. Then rain began Saturday evening and “it did not stop,” Fadem told NN&I. “By Sunday, people had lost power. There was no way anything could be open. All dialysis units were closed.”
On Monday, several units were reopened, but DaVita staff couldn’t get to their clinics because the roadways were flooded, said Fadem. “The staff were trapped in their homes. For the patients we could dialyze, we shortened their treatments so the staff that were available could get home before dark.”
Clinic staff had called all patients and none were missing, Fadem noted. “We expect to be busy today,” he said.
Track what dialysis clinics are closed due to Hurricane Harvey
To get an updated list, go to the ESRD Network of Texas website and connect with the Texas Emergency ESRD Coalition (http://www.texasteec.org/ems-system). Once on that home page, type in the username txdialview, and the password Teec2015!@ to gain access to the listing.