September 20, 2018
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Dialysis providers reopen clinics after Hurricane Florence floods the Carolinas

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Dialysis companies caring for patients in North and South Carolina and Georgia have reopened most clinics after combating torrential rain and flooding from Hurricane Florence.

During the height of the storm, providers had to close more than 40 clinics across the three states. A few clinics remain closed this week. Despite preparations for the storm’s impact in Virginia, residents and health care facilities there were spared major damage, including dialysis units owned by the University of Virginia.

Preparing early for the hurricane was key for dialysis providers. However, in some situations, providers had to take evasive action.

“We’ve coordinated with emergency officials to rescue patients who were stranded across the Carolinas, whether by bus, boat or air,” said Elise Duke, DaVita Kidney Care’s group vice president, who is managing the company’s response in the southern states. “At this stage, we’ve accounted for all in-center hemodialysis patients and have a team going door to door to reach a small number of home dialysis patients. We’ve flown in teammates from across the country to help power our open clinics and have deployed generators, fuel and supplies to the area.”

DaVita spokesperson Ashley Hansen told Healio.com/Nephrology that “we have a small number of clinics that are inaccessible due to flooding and road closures. We will reopen these clinics as soon as conditions are safe and will continue to route patients to locations which can safely provide dialysis care in the meantime.” The company has about 87 clinics and 6,000 patients in North Carolina.

DaVita clinics that remained closed (all in North Carolina) due to the storm include Southport Dialysis Center, Surf City Dialysis, New River Dialysis and Leland Dialysis Center. DaVita clinics reopened in the aftermath of Florence included SEDC Burgaw Dialysis Center, SEDC Elizabethtown Dialysis Center, SEDC Kenansville Dialysis Center, Chadbourn Dialysis Center, Cape Fear Dialysis and New Hanover Dialysis Center.

At Fresenius Medical Care, company administrators from flood zone areas prepared an action plan.

“We activated our emergency disaster response plans ahead of the storm to ensure patients had emergency packets and access to advanced treatments,” said Bob Loeper, head of disaster response for Fresenius Medical Care. “Our incident command teams staged resources outside of the impact zone, which were deployed into North and South Carolina once the storm passed. We immediately conducted wellness checks to ensure all patients and staff were accounted for.”

Loeper said the company also made sure support services were available to handle the storm.

“Our command centers are equipped with generators, water, food and fuel to service the impacted areas. As of today, all patients are accounted for and all clinics are open except one, which we plan to open over the weekend,” he said.

He noted that more than 50 clinics were open on Sept. 15 to capture missed treatments, and additional shifts continue in clinics to accommodate all patients. – by Mark E. Neumann