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Part II: Striving to Prepare with the Texas ESRD Emergency Coalition (TEEC)
By Anna Ramirez
In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the dialysis community in Texas formed the Texas ESRD Emergency Coalition. TEEC was tested for the first time by Hurricane Ike in 2008 which wiped out facilities in Galveston, Texas, and the coast, and shut down services in Houston, where the largest number of dialysis providers in Texas are located.
Hurricane Ike destroyed many homes, but it also destroyed the facilities where these patients receive life-saving dialysis treatment.
Former TEEC chairman Bryan Harvey Sanders, RN, once said “It’s not the hurricane that will kill them; it’s the days after without electricity, water, medication, appropriate food and dialysis.”
During Hurricane Ike, TEEC volunteers stepped in to place patients for dialysis where facilities were open and had space to dialyze patients. A majority of Houston dialysis centers were affected by loss of power, water issues, broken windows or flooding.
Reopening a dialysis facility is not an easy task. Traffic blocked patients and staff members from getting to their facilities. Since dialysis facilities require specialized equipment and specialized staff, there are limitations on who can come in and help.
Dialysis patients also require specialized diets and fluid restrictions, which may not be available in regular shelters.
Three days before Ike made landfall, the TEEC steering committee activated its command center in Dallas. TEEC volunteers manned phones 24-hours a day, just as dialysis providers worked day and night to dialyze as many patients as possible.
No matter their affiliation, all dialysis providers in Texas came together to help and facilitate patient care. TEEC publicized its toll-free number for patients and providers.
At its peak, the disaster line took 4,000 to 5,000 calls per day. These calls came in before and after the storm. Round the clock, volunteers worked to coordinate and direct patients care.
TEEC continues to learn from each disaster that strikes the area and strives to prepare. Most recently, TEEC held daily Steering Committee calls to receive updates on Hurricane Isaac. TEEC members volunteered their time and their services to assist any patients or providers that were affected by Hurricane Isaac. Although they were not called up, TEEC was there, ready to assist where needed.
For more information on TEEC visit: www.texasteec.org
Anna Ramirez received her Bachelor of Science in biology and Master of Public Health with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Anna is the outreach coordinator at the ESRD Network of Texas, Inc., and serves as Network liaison with the Texas ESRD Emergency Coalitio