Natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes pose immense challenges for dialysis patients – and for the professionals who treat them. Even when entire regions are devastated, and left without electricity and passable roads, for people living there with chronic kidney failure it is essential that they continue receiving regular dialysis treatments.
(Published: November 2017)
Fresenius Medical Care employees therefore do everything in their power to maintain patient care after natural disasters – for example, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. These three catastrophic storms all struck the southeastern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean within a month, and together claimed at least 250 lives.
Fresenius Medical Care and the company’s Disaster Response Team swung into action before the hurricanes made landfall. Patients in the path of Hurricane Harvey, which reached Texas on August 25, received emergency packets that included a three-day renal diet. Company clinics added extra shifts, and prepared for an influx of transient patients. After Harvey hit, the Disaster Response Team got stranded patients to clinics with so-called “duck boats” – amphibious vehicles that can drive through up to 1.5 meters (five feet) of water or operate as vessels. The team also used small boats and high-water vehicles to deliver food and other supplies to patients.
An enormous effort was also needed to get clinics operational in Puerto Rico, which was battered by Hurricane Irma and then, just two weeks later, devastated by Hurricane Maria. Fresenius Medical Care had transferred 89 patients from the Caribbean island of St. Thomas to Puerto Rico, but they were then flown to a company clinic in Miami.
“The extraordinary efforts of so many individuals just humble me,” said Bill Valle, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care North America. “It’s always a privilege to see our company respond in the greatest times of need.”
Fresenius Medical Care's dialysis clinics were not the only Fresenius facilities affected by the hurricanes: so were Fresenius Kabi’s two medical products plants in Puerto Rico, with more than 1,000 employees. Immediately after Hurricane Maria, a small team of Fresenius Kabi colleagues arrived to help restore operations and distribute emergency supplies to employees. Combined with company donations, almost 100 pallets of food, water, toiletries, batteries and other necessities were flown in aboard two planes chartered by the company.
Production restarted under diesel power at Fresenius Kabi’s San German plant on Sept. 25, and a short time later at the Maricao plant. The company also helped its suppliers in Puerto Rico in their recovery efforts.
“Despite their own hardships they were there for our patients.”
“The team in Puerto Rico did an incredible job in overcoming huge obstacles to resume the production of essential medical devices for our customers as quickly as possible,” said Christian Hauer, President Medical Devices Division of Fresenius Kabi, who headed the effort to restore production.
Stephan Sturm, CEO of Fresenius, also thanked all the employees who continued to work in extremely difficult circumstances, even though many had suffered damage to their own homes.
“Despite their own hardships,” said Sturm, “they were there for our patients.”
Fresenius Medical Care North America
920 Winter Street
T +1 (781) 699-900
Fresenius Kabi USA
Three Corporate Drive
Lake Zurich, IL
T +1 (847) 550-2300