WALTHAM, Mass.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Next week marks the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the late-season tropical cyclone that swept through the Caribbean and up the U.S. East Coast – killing more than 180 people, leaving millions more without power and causing more than $60 billion in damages to public and private property.
“We started preparing well before the storm hit, by opening our clinic early to treat additional patients and reviewing patients’ backup treatment plans”
If another major storm develops during the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, is ready to respond wherever help is needed to ensure uninterrupted life-sustaining dialysis treatments. Dialysis patients who receive blood-filtering treatments in a clinic depend on facility visits three times per week to remove waste products and excess fluids from their blood after their kidneys have failed.
Superstorm Sandy, which began as a hurricane, provided the most demanding test yet of the company’s emergency preparedness plans. Although more than 15,000 patients in 230 FMCNA clinics were directly affected by the storm, the company’s advance planning and timely response ensured that none of its patients’ lives were threatened by storm-related interruptions in their treatment due to facility closures. In addition, more than 50,000 dialysis patients in hard-hit New Jersey and New York City continued to receive life-sustaining dialysis treatments throughout the storm and its aftermath.
In the days before Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Northeast coast, FMCNA activated its Incident Command Team, consisting of national and local employees who work together during hurricanes and other natural disasters to ensure that the company’s facilities and staff provide uninterrupted dialysis treatments.
“We started preparing well before the storm hit, by opening our clinic early to treat additional patients and reviewing patients’ backup treatment plans,” said Bassam M. Haddad, M.D., medical director at FMCNA’s Hoboken, N.J., clinic. Those backup plans proved essential after flooding closed the Hoboken facility, requiring patients to receive ongoing treatment at nearby facilities.
Superstorm Sandy triggered the company’s largest disaster response effort since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Led by the Incident Command Team, FMCNA:
- Rescheduled dialysis treatment times, or coordinated new clinic locations, for more than 15,000 patients.
- Responded to hundreds of calls to the company’s Patient Emergency Hotline.
- Operated 40 facilities on auxiliary power, including 14 in which high capacity mobile generators were used.
- Provided more than 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel to power those generators.
- Delivered bottled water and warm meals to facilities and employees in need.
- Set up five staging areas in New Jersey and Manhattan for the distribution of gasoline, food and water.
- Brought in and distributed more than 40,000 gallons of gasoline so employees could get to work to care for patients.
- Provided 450 power generators to affected employees so they could stay in the area and care for patients.
- Supplied motor homes and personal supplies to employees who lost homes or whose homes were not safe to occupy.
FMCNA’s disaster response efforts were put to the test again during the February 2013 winter storm Nemo, which dumped up to three feet of snow across New England and left more than 600,000 people without power. Ahead of the storm, the company activated its Incident Command Team and emergency hotline. In addition, it immediately implemented plans and delivered generators, fuel, bottled water and meals to facilities and employees affected by the storm in concert with national and regional partners.
“Planning for hurricanes, blizzards and other natural disasters is not something that can be put off until the last minute,” said Babajide Salako, M.D., FMCNA’s director of operations support and global disaster response. “That’s why we work year-round to train our staff and position emergency supplies in all parts of the country. These preparations assure that we’re ready to respond quickly and effectively whenever and wherever disaster strikes.”
For more information on FMCNA’s natural disaster response efforts, and important tips to help patients prepare for any emergency, visit FMCNA’s Emergency Preparedness website.
About Fresenius Medical Care North America
Through our leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and our vascular access centers, laboratory, pharmacy and affiliated hospitals and nephrology practices, Fresenius Medical Care provides renal services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. We are also the continent’s top producer of dialysis equipment, dialyzers and related disposable products and a major supplier of renal pharmaceuticals.