Fresenius Kidney Care Rockport welcomed the return of 40 patients this month, another step toward normal for this region hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The center took several months to repair, making its reopening on Feb. 1 a huge moment to celebrate.
“Everyone is ecstatic to return home to the Rockport center,” said Tammi Ruiz-Casey, RN. “We’re all excited to get back to normal.”
Nearly 50 people came out to celebrate at the event, including patients, staff and their families, representatives from the Rockport Chamber of Commerce and Fulton Mayor Pro Tem Craig Bohn.
When the massive category 4 hurricane hit, patients with end stage renal disease were suddenly without the dialysis center they had depended on for life sustaining treatment.
Many of the patients and staff were forced to live – for months – in temporary housing after their homes suffered severe damage. In addition to this, they had to be relocated to other centers that were 30 miles or farther from their homes.
“After the hurricane, everything was gone,” said Doyle Phelps, one of the many patients displaced after the storm. “I started dialyzing at the Rockport center the day after it reopened. It feels a lot better to be closer to home.”
Phelps is closer to home at Rockport, but he is still waiting, along with another 51 patients, for nearby Aransas Pass to be fully rebuilt. Over the last few months he has found lots of support from clinic staff who ensured that he not only found a place for dialysis, but a bed to sleep on as well.
When Jessica Cangelosi, clinic manager of Fresenius Kidney Care in Aransas Pass, learned that Phelps was sleeping on cushions after the storm destroyed his bed, she found a staff member in San Antonio to donate a bed, and then along with help from her staff, delivered and unloaded it for him.
“I was very grateful to get the bed,” said Phelps. “I didn’t expect it and it really helped us out.”
While patients came first, the company ensured employees also received the support they needed to get through these challenging circumstances. Fresenius Medical Care North America provided Amazon gift accounts so staff could replenish lost and damaged household items, and the company also arranged long-term housing solutions.
Cangelosi, who lost her roof and most of the possessions inside her home, still managed to provide Christmas for her four children.
“We lost everything inside our house,” said Cangelosi. “I can’t explain how much their help means to me. Knowing my family was safe and taken care of, I could stay focused on my patients and staff.”
Rebecca Meyer and Tammi Ruiz-Casey, RN, lived for weeks in housing arranged by Fresenius Medical Care, while also restocking needed supplies thanks to the company gifts.
“Items you take for granted, like utensils or a broom—it all adds up,” said Rebecca Meyer, the clinic manager in Rockport. “No other company would do this.”