During Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, many dialysis patients and staff had to evacuate their homes. Homes, dialysis centers and roads were damaged, making it challenging for patients to find care and dialysis treatment. Ninety-four Gulf Coast dialysis centers were closed for one week or more, affecting approximately 5,800 dialysis patients. In addition, power lines and phone service were impacted, making communication difficult.
Hurricane Katrina highlighted that a better response to future emergencies was desperately needed at both the national and local levels. Many state, federal, patient, provider, and local emergency response organizations joined together to create what is now known as the KCER (Kidney Community Emergency Response) Program. KCER has been successful in taking lessons learned from the storm to make broad changes in the kidney community’s emergency response plans.
KCER’s goal is to ensure that even in a disaster, patients can still find the life-saving dialysis services that they need. The key to achieving this goal is preparing before a disaster occurs! These preparations take the form of developing efficient disaster preparedness resources to help save lives, improve outcomes, empower patients and families, educate healthcare workers, and promote readiness in the kidney community.
Do you feel prepared for a disaster? In honor of the 10th anniversary of Katrina, we encourage you to take time to review your disaster plan with your dialysis care team and create one with your family if you haven’t already. You can download the KCER emergency information handout here. To help you learn more and be prepared for any disaster, visit KCER’s website: http://kcercoalition.com where you can find tools and resources created just for dialysis patients.