With Hurricane Isaias and Hurricane Laura already taking a toll, this year’s storm season is well underway. By the end of August, a record seven named storms made landfall in the continental U.S., matching earlier predictions of an above-average hurricane season. The active hurricane season has kept Fresenius Kidney Care’s disaster response team especially busy, helping ensure all patients receive the life-sustaining treatments they need.
The Gulf Coast received a direct hit from Hurricane Laura on August 27th, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall in Louisiana. It left the city of Lake Charles with extensive damage, as well as the loss of power and water. Fresenius Kidney Care responded quickly with support for its employees, including personal generators, while also bringing power, water trucks, and food to those dialysis centers hit hardest. A few weeks later the team again prepared to respond to Hurricane Sally as its low directional speed brought substantial rainfall and flooding along the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coasts.
“Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment, so if our patients don't have dialysis within three days it can become a major complication for their health,” said Scott Riddell to KADN-TV in Lafayette, Louisiana shortly after Hurricane Laura hit. Riddell is a Director of Operations at Fresenius Kidney Care and member of the company’s disaster response team. “Our services within 24-48 hours are always very critical.”
The response team ensured that all patients were quickly located after the storm, and most had already evacuated to inland areas where they could receive treatment at other centers. The ability to prepare patients early and respond quickly afterwards, are skills the company has developed over years of practice and detailed planning.
In a recent Field Notes podcast, Bob Loeper, Vice President of Disaster Response for Fresenius Medical Care North America, explained how trained teams throughout the country help the company quickly respond and take care of patients wherever they are. But it’s the days even before a storm hits that can be the most important.
“Dialysis clinics need to close on the day a storm hits, and there is strategic preparation in advance of these closures. For example, our staff needs to prepare for additional treatments the day before, which may require extra shifts to accommodate our dialysis patients before the storm,” said Loeper. “Our goal is to reopen a clinic the second day after a storm passes through to minimize missed treatments.”
This hurricane season has been compounded by having to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in unison. Loeper says disaster response teams must be more nimble and smaller to avoid moving in large groups. In addition, they must carry a full supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure safety at all times.
“It’s really about training and doing drills, knowing what to expect, and being prepared,” said Loeper. “Everyone needs to be clear about their role.”
Fresenius Kidney Care's 24-hour Emergency Hotline (1-800-626-1297) is available before and after before and after a major storm hits for anyone requiring life-sustaining dialysis or who may have questions regarding their care at 1-800-626-1297. Tips for patients about how to prepare for a disaster.
To learn more about the company’s disaster response efforts and view videos about the response to Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Michael.