In the wake of Hurricane Michael, the two largest dialysis companies in the country have opened their doors to all patients seeking treatment in the affected areas of the southeastern U.S., regardless of their typical provider.
Both Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita Kidney Care have deployed power generators, additional medication, and water and fuel tankers to the region to keep their clinics up and running, and the companies have been contacting individual patients to make sure they get treatment.
"Uninterrupted access to care is critical for dialysis patients, so we are prepared to support anyone in need, whether you typically treat with one of DaVita's coastal clinics or even with another dialysis provider," Jeffrey Giullian, DaVita’s vice president of medical affairs, said in a statement.
"Over the next 24 hours, our focus is accounting for our patients and teammates, assessing centers in impacted areas and identifying safe shelters,” Giullian said the day after the storm came ashore. Typically, complications begin to occur within 48 to 72 hours in dialysis patients without access to care.
For Fresenius, the storm has impacted about 350 clinics in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, which cover about 16,000 patients and 5,100 employees. The company is coordinating its response efforts from a command center established at its Panama City, Florida, clinic—not far from where Hurricane Michael made landfall—which has resumed taking patients.
The center has also been providing housing trailers and food to staff, patients and their families, Fresenius said. All its clinics in the area are back up and operational, though some have lost power or water and are using generators and tankers.
And while a number of DaVita's centers have been closed due to power outages, damage or road access issues, most of its clinics are open, the company told FierceMedtech.
Ahead of the storm, Fresenius and DaVita provided patients with emergency kits—as well as prescription, dietary and fluid information should they need to go to a difference center—and had patients come in early for proactive dialysis.
DaVita's 2,600 local employees have been communicating evacuation information to patients and coordinating with other dialysis and healthcare providers, including hospitals, to provide treatment at alternate locations and schedule check-ins with care teams.
In addition, DaVita is urging patients to follow local boil water advisories due to flooding, especially those with a central venous or peritoneal dialysis catheter, or other type of vascular access.
“Clean water is critical for dialysis patients whose immune systems are vulnerable to infection,” Giullian said. “In areas under boil water advisories, taking precautions with everyday tasks like bathing, washing hands, and cooking is imperative for the safety of those on dialysis.”
Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from DaVita Kidney Care.