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Disaster preparedness--nephrology nurses were ready.

The nephrology community had plans that went into place and worked well during the recent hurricane disasters. Lessons were learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina and Rim devastated the Gulf Coast, the kidney community came together and formed the Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition (KCERC). ANNA has a representative on this coalition, Norma Gomez, who keeps the ANNA Web site updated regarding ways members can assist when disasters strike. Since 2005, the KCERC and the ESRD Networks have had planning meetings to use the lessons learned from Katrina to be ready when another disaster came.

Hurricane Gustav

Living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I experienced the wrath of Hurricane Gustav on September 1, 2008. I also was able to witness firsthand the responsiveness of nephrology nurses to the intense needs of their patients. People who evacuated from the coastal areas used emergency numbers to call dialysis companies to schedule dialysis treatments ahead of time. Over 120 transient patients were dialyzed in the Baton Rouge area before Gustav arrived (Personal communication, KCER/GUSTAV Emergency Call 4, September 1, 2008). DSI, FMC, and DaVita dialysis units were up and running on generator power the day after the hurricane made landfall, and employees from these dialysis units came to work and staffed 3 to 4 patient shifts a day.

Patients came to the special needs shelter and were triaged and transported to dialysis units. Some patients showed up at the doorstep of dialysis units and were welcomed. The majority of transient patients who came had their emergency packets. The emergency packets included dialysis prescriptions, dialysis medications, patients' hepatitis B status, allergies, nephrologist's name, dialysis unit, medical history, and emergency numbers. This was so much better than when Katrina occurred and transient patients showed up at dialysis units without any medical information at all.

Dialysis companies had disaster teams that included nurses who were ready to move into action. The day after Gustav arrived, these disaster teams were in place and helping at the dialysis units that had received patients from the direct hit areas. Extra supplies were sent in to accommodate the additional patients. Nurses traveled with their patients from evacuated areas of the state to the open dialysis units. This was done as a result of having "sister units" arranged before Hurricane Gustav. One DSI outpatient dialysis unit in southwest Louisiana knew that its sister unit in Baton Rouge would accept their patients, and staff from both units worked together to make this happen.

Hurricane Ike

A week after Gustav came to Louisiana and Mississippi, Hurricane Ike hit the southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. The Texas Emergency ESRD Coalition (TEEC) was formed in December 2005. TEEC developed a system to identify patients needing dialysis during disasters and included the use of purple waterproof arm bands that were included in each patient's emergency kit. The arm band contains the person's network ID number and other identifying information, and the entire emergency kit is contained in a purple fanny pack. The TEEC Web site ( has tools and resources for patients and staff; it includes such items as a triage assessment tool, information on what to do after a disaster, transportation assistance, contact lists, and more.

Working Together

Much work was done in the past three years by ESRD networks, KCERC, TEEC, and many others. All of the work in planning for disasters has saved lives. During recent disasters, most patients remembered to bring their emergency packets, and they knew who to call to schedule dialysis treatments. Shelters were more aware of the needs of patients with renal disease and were contacted early to determine where to send patients requiring dialysis treatments. The Kidney Community has come a long way in such a short period of time in preparing their patients and staff on how to react during disaster situations.

Nephrology Nurses--Key Participants

Nephrology nurses participated in the planning and implementation of disaster plans. The nephrology nurses who I saw in the dialysis units and in the hospitals dialyzing acute care patients the day after the storm were there to care for their patients even though some of them had damage to their own homes. Nephrology nurses have truly shown their spirit of caring and carried the torch of hope and light for the care of their patients.


As President of ANNA, I would like to thank all of the nephrology nurses who respond during times of disasters. You are there to comfort patients who are feeling helpless and scared. You truly are heroes who work endless hours to keep patients alive. Together, we can make things happen, and in nephrology nursing, we are doing just that! Thank you. You are appreciated very much.

Sue Cary, MN, APRN, NP, CNN

ANNA President
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Title Annotation:President's Message; American Nephrology Nurses' Association
Author:Cary, Sue
Publication:Nephrology Nursing Journal
Article Type:Clinical report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2008
Previous Article:Traditions.
Next Article:Advance care planning for patients with chronic kidney disease--why aren't nurses more involved?

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